One distinguishing mark of God’s people should be thankfulness. Over and over again in Scripture we are exhorted to be thankful. James, our Lord’s brother, says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.” God has given us all that we have, all that we need, so it is only right that we should be eternally grateful to the One who has given us every good and every perfect gift, indeed, every thing.
Why is it then that any of us should ever feel entitled? Knowing that every good and every perfect gift is from God, why do we sometimes take things for granted, things like the clothes on our backs, the roofs over our heads, the bread on our tables, the love of family and friends? On the one hand, God is faithful and unchanging, so steadfast and reliable that we might just forget food comes from God and instead start thinking it comes from the grocery store. On the other hand, didn’t God warn the Israelites about that very sort of thinking? Remember what God tells His people as He is about to give them “great and good cities that [they] did not build, and houses full of all good things that [they] did not fill, and cisterns that [they] did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that [they] did not plant”? He tells them to remember where it all came from. He says, “And when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the Lord.” (Deut 6:10-12). Have we forgotten the Lord? I hope not.
In the verses preceding the ones quoted above, God exhorts His people to teach their children about Him, to teach them “diligently” in fact. There is obviously no doubt in God’s mind that if we do not teach our children about Him, they will forget Him, forget that He is the source of all things. No, they must be taught, and diligently. The prospect of our not teaching our children about God is akin to the idea of “a child left to himself” from Proverbs 29:15—the only thing that kid will accomplish for certain is bringing “shame to his mother.”
If we want our children to know that every good and every perfect gift is from above, we’ll have to be the ones to teach them. Teaching them to say grace before a meal is a good start, but don’t stop there. Talk about the faithfulness of God to your children, around your children. Go beyond teaching to training. Let them see you be genuinely thankful for food, clothes, shelter, rain, sunsets, a car that starts on a cold morning. Let that kind of thankfulness be part of your DNA so that it becomes part of theirs. Then teach them to be thankful for the human agents God works through. It is okay for Johnny to know how many hours Dad had to work so he could have those new basketball shoes—not to make Johnny feel guilty for the shoes. No, in fact, Dad can smile when he gives those shoes because he is genuinely delighted to give the gift even though it cost him so much. God must feel the same way when he gives us every good and perfect gift.
Teach your little ones to say, “Thank you.” It may seem meaningless at first when a two-year-old says, “Tank ou,” especially if you have to remind her to say it every single time, but if you live a thankful life in front of that child as she grows up, she will soon know that a bright and cheerful “Thank you!” is accompanied by genuine thoughts and feelings of gratitude toward the giver. Imagine a world where God’s people are truly grateful to God and the human agents He works through for every good and perfect gift. That world is right around the corner, and you get to participate in bringing it about. Thank you for your time.
Mr. Ron Gilley