“Thank you” are two of the first words we parents teach our children to say. Even before our daughters could talk, we taught them the sign for “thank you” in sign language. It’s important to train our children to express gratitude for the things they receive. But it’s also equally vital to teach them why we should be thankful because it’s more than just a matter of using good manners. If we can lay a biblical foundation for thankfulness while they’re young, we will help them develop a habit of gratitude for the rest of their lives.
A Few Reasons to Be Thankful
So why should we be thankful, and why should we teach our children to be thankful? Here are just a few reasons—by no means is this an exhaustive list.
- God commands it. Several times throughout Scripture the Lord instructs us to give thanks, and of course whenever He gives us a command, we should obey because we love Him (Psalm 50:14; 105:1; 107:8; Colossians 1:3; 2:7; 3:17; 4:2).
- Gratitude is God’s will for us. Probably 1 Thessalonians 5:18 immediately comes to mind: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Many Christians want to know God’s will for their lives, and He tells us some very specific things that are always His will for us. Gratitude is one of them. God makes it very clear that thankfulness is always His will for our lives, no matter what our circumstances.
- Gratitude is evidence of the Holy Spirit indwelling us. It’s one of the marks of a true believer. If we profess salvation in Jesus Christ, our lives will be characterized by a thankful attitude. When we submit ourselves to the control of the Holy Spirit, He produces the fruit of gratefulness in our lives (Galatians 5:22).
- Gratitude is a choice. Our children need to learn that they can choose to give thanks even when they don’t feel like it. As parents, we must learn this ourselves so we can teach them to follow our example. How often do we find ourselves complaining? Do we give God praise only when things go our way? Do we thank Him for trials as well as blessings? These are a few important questions to ask ourselves as we strive to help our children learn true biblical thankfulness.
Our Christian character cannot be complete without thankfulness. Faith apart from gratitude becomes empty and powerless. Love apart from gratitude will disintegrate under adversity and discouragement. Sacrificial giving apart from gratitude will sour into resentment. A British pastor, John Henry Jowett, once said, “Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.” In short, we can’t be the Christians God wants us to be without it! Now is the time to cultivate gratitude in our families so we can grow “unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
• • • • •
Jennifer is a pastor’s wife and mom of two young girls and loves homeschooling them. During her own twelve years of being homeschooled, Jennifer developed a passion for reading and writing. She earned a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and relishes writing during her free time.