I have written in past years about teaching our children to be thankful. It has never been more important to teach and model this essential character trait because life is easy for most of our children in comparison to many others in the U.S. and around the world. After all, how many of our children go without food or shelter on a daily basis? They may know about some people who struggle with this, but not themselves.
One of the best ways to teach children about being thankful is to demonstrate gratefulness ourselves. This is not just helpful advice, it is a biblical command. It is taught in many passages, but one of the most significant is Colossians 3:15-17 that commands thankfulness three times in three verses. This does not come naturally to most people, especially those who work hard at making their lives better. While diligence and industriousness are commendable characteristics, pride is not. The truth is that all of us need to be thankful for all the things that we are not responsible for, such as where we were born. For example, it was only by the providence of birth we were not born into oppressive poverty, or even that we have the privilege of life.
We need to learn to cultivate thankfulness, not just wait for it to happen. Since Renee and I are empty nesters, we only have ourselves to feed each day. I take care of the easy meal, breakfast, and Renee takes care of dinner. Even though cooking oatmeal is as simple as it gets, Renee thanks me every day for making it. I know that happens because she intentionally plans to express her gratitude. Of course, it might have something to do with me making a latte each day as well, but still…
It is helpful to think through our day and plan for letting others know how thankful we are for their provision or their kindness to us. At first it may feel strange since we are saying something that normally does not come out of our mouths, but it becomes natural after a while.
Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God,” reminds us that our thankfulness ultimately should be directed toward God who has provided so much for us.
This Thanksgiving, I pray that we will all practice showing gratitude, and if appropriate, forming a new habit.