The secular world likes the idea of “thankfulness”. You may see non-Christian friends on Facebook writing “30 days of gratitude” posts leading up to Thanksgiving Day, or hear them talk about being “thankful” for the “blessings” in their lives. Parents want their kids to be thankful, but to whom, we’re not quite sure. This type of generic gratefulness may promote a “positive outlook” (something that is a popular goal in our society today), but it is not what the Lord desires from us when we are commanded to “in everything, give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:1a).
There is no shortage of Scripture passages that instruct us in God-honoring thanksgiving. A thankful Christian recognizes, gives credit to, and directs thanks toward the giver of every good thing, God Himself.
“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17).
Where we see thanksgiving in the Bible, we see our Creator and Savior at the center of the gratitude.
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17).
We aren’t truly being thankful if we fail to thank the one who blessed us. It would be strange to receive a wonderful Christmas present from my husband, then walk around telling people how thankful I am for my gift without sharing where it came from and without saying “thank you” to my thoughtful husband. “Every good thing given” is from our Father God; therefore, He deserves the praise and thanks.
As mothers, we should be modeling Biblical, God-focused thankfulness for our children and instilling it in them from a young age. It recently dawned on me that I have not been faithful to practice this with my one-year-old, Caleb. He is young, yes, but it is never too early to begin shepherding his little heart.
I’ll give you a very simple everyday example of how we can teach our children in this area. This evening, Caleb was figuring out a new toy. When he had successfully used it for its intended purpose, I told him, “Good job, Baby! God gave you a mind so you could learn things. Thank You, God!”
This is so elementary, and while Caleb probably didn’t understand one word after “good job”, making a habit of this type of statement accomplishes several things.
Two Lessons We Can Learn Through A Habit of Thankfulness
Lesson 1 – It reminds my own heart, as Caleb’s mom, not to take him or his growth for granted. The ways he is changing and learning are remarkable and undeserved gifts from God. I should pause and thank our Creator many times a day as I watch His handiwork unfolding in my son.
Lesson 2 – It sets an example of God-focused gratitude. Lord-willing, this will help Caleb to recognize his blessings as gifts from God as his little heart begins to comprehend the things of the Lord. By God’s grace, establishing these habits will cultivate humility and thankfulness in my son. It is hard to live in pride for our accomplishments or character when we recognize that God is behind them.
Directing Our Praise Toward the Lord
I treasure the weeks leading up to that delicious Thanksgiving feast. The extra emphasis on gratitude is a part of what makes this time of year festive and joyous. But we must direct our praise toward God.
As we approach this popular and cheerful holiday, let your heart be renewed in gratitude to our Savior for His gifts, both spiritual and material, and begin seizing opportunities to teach your children to do the same. And remember—this Christ-centered thankfulness should resonate in our hearts and spill off of our lips all-year-round, not just during the month of November.