From the Pulpit: Teaching children thankfulness

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2005

It’s been said that if you want to find gratitude, you should look it up in a dictionary. We live in an ungrateful society and know little about being thankful. I’ve been thinking &8212; how can we teach our children and grandchildren to be thankful and to express gratitude for what God has given to us? What a great habit for them to learn. Children can &8220;catch&8221; truth as well as learn it, and habits of thanksgiving can be formed at an early age. Here are a few things parents can do to encourage and model thankfulness:

– Give thanks in prayers, before meals and at bedtime.

– Learn to give thanks for small things.

– Ask God’s protection before a trip and express thanks when you arrive.

– Be thankful for good health. Even better, give thanks when they are sick and see God at work when they do not feel well.

– Learn to express thanks to members of your family.

– Thank your children for what they do around the house and chores they complete.

– Teach your children how to write thank you notes.

– Keep a list or journal of the things to be grateful for.

Don’t be like the society of the thankless nine. In Luke 17, Jesus healed 10 lepers. One, a Samaritan, returned to give him thanks. The Samaritan, an outcast, would have seemed the least likely to give thanks. But out of gratitude he returned, and Luke says that his faith made him well! Learn the importance of giving thanks in all things. Phil. 4:6 (ESV) says, &8220;Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.&8221; 1 Thess. 5:18 (ESV) says, &8220;Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.&8221; Most of all, thank God for his inexpressible gift. (2 Cor. 9:15)

Dave Matthews serves as associate pastor at Briarwood Presbyterian Church. He can be reached by e-mail at mailto:dmatthews@briarwood.or