guest post by Delme Linscott,
King Lear once remarked, “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.” And I believe he was absolutely correct. The stinging pain from a child who constantly receives, without remembering to say Thank you can release a slow poison of disillusionment and frustration in the heart of any exhausted parent.
But, why is it that most children seem to be born without the grateful gene in their DNA? Trying to teach children the importance of using words like Please and Thank you can be an absolute nightmare? In fact, sometimes it feels as if flying to Mars is more likely to happen than children using a Please and Thank You.
We could take the dim view of this frustrating phase in the lives of our youngsters and simply give up or we could choose to push on and teach our kids the lost art of being grateful. As a young naive father, there were many days where I shook my head in despair at my kids’ lack of gratitude, but I am glad we persevered in expecting more. I strongly believe that if we can teach our kids the art of gratitude it will change the way they see their world and hopefully embed in their hearts an attitude of thankfulness.
If allowed to continue without the appropriate correction, the spirit of ungratefulness can impact upon the child’s friendships with peers, relationships with significant adults and ultimately lead them down a path of isolation. If you think that this statement is an over-exaggeration then I ask you to think about the last time you were in the company of someone who was arrogant, demanding, ungrateful, and entitled. How did that go for you? How did you feel? My guess is that you hated every minute of the experience and you will definitely be moving that person way down your future guest list.
In Luke 17:11-19, Jesus had an interesting encounter with ten lepers, nine of whom seemed to be totally ungrateful for what he did for them. There was only one of them who bothered to come back and say to Jesus, “thanks for giving me my life back!”
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”(New Living Translation)
We are not sure how far the lepers had to walk to report back to the Priests, but this is beside the point. The main issue is that only 1 out of the 10 bothered to thank Jesus. Even if they had to walk a few kilometers, they still could have turned around and said thank you. The point is that many times we ask God for favours and yet we seldom remember to say “Thank you, Lord.”
In my experience, gratitude requires a certain amount of effort. Sending that email, making the phone call, or even popping around to say Thank You all take time, but in the end, the gesture goes a long way. Receiving a Thank You can even inspire more generosity in the heart of the initial giver. I am not sure why it works like that, but it just does.
So, here is a question for us today: How often do we say thank you to God?
Is it only when we get something from God or perhaps every time we come to worship? Or are we able to develop a daily attitude of thankfulness and gratitude?
Carefully read the words of this passage from the Psalms:
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.” – Psalm 100:4
If you read this passage in Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase The Message you will note how he interprets this verse to read:
“Enter with the password: “Thank you!”
Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
Thank him. Worship him.”
I love this thought. I think I am going to tell my friends and family that we have a new password at home and church. If you want to enter into either of these spaces you have to say the password out loud – THANK YOU! Forget about the secret knock on the door; just use a Thank You and you are welcome in our home.
It may seem like a long, long process, but I want my kids to learn this lost art and to be grateful for their blessings. It would be wonderful if we could instill within all our hearts these challenging words from Paul – “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). In this way, we could be grateful despite what happens in the world around us.
Lastly, can I leave us with this challenge? Think about someone who has done something for you recently and send a clear message to them that you are deeply grateful. You will be surprised how far your ‘Thank You’ may go!
Living in Grace
Bio for Delme Linscott
Delme Linscott is an Ordained Minister serving in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. He is married to Kim and they have three teenage sons. Delme loves the outdoors, running, swimming, surfing and also enjoys good coffee. For many years, Delme has been exploring his faith journey through his writing and personal reflections on his daily blog. Delme has also authored seven books, including Living Oceans Apart, Whatever it Takes, Jesus in the Psalms, 70 Days of Wisdom and Christ in our Chaos. For more information please visit: www.LivingInGrace.co.za.
Gearing Up for a Season of Gratitude Online Retreat
Inspired by the celebrations of Canadian Thanksgiving at the beginning of October and American Thanksgiving at the end of November, we designate October and November as gratitude months on Godspace Light. Lilly Lewin and Christine Sine will encourage you to get ready by providing a collaborative retreat process that will help us enter this season of gratitude with joy and delight in our hearts. This course provides a fun process of interaction, creativity, and reflection.
How do we approach the world with gratitude and delight even in the midst of the most challenging situations? What if gratitude is more than an emotion? What can we do to bring more gratitude into our daily lives? These are some of the questions we grapple with as we look ahead to the changing seasons. What are your questions about gratitude? Join us and explore them in this interactive mini-retreat “Gearing up for a Season of Gratitude“.