One distinguishing mark of God’s people should be thankfulness. Over and over again in Scripture we are exhorted to be thankful. James says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). God has given us all that we have, all that we need, so it is only right that we should be grateful to the One who has given us every good and every perfect gift, indeed, every thing.
Why should we ever feel entitled or act ungrateful? 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? Perhaps it is because God is faithful and unchanging, so steadfast and reliable that it is easy to forget, for example, that food is created by God and not by Publix. And doesn’t God warn us about that very sort of thinking? Remember what God tells His people in Deuteronomy chapter six as He is preparing to give them the Promised Land? 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). We, too, must be careful to remember our good God and His providence for us.
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.
If we want our children to know that every good and every perfect gift is from above, we must teach them. Teaching them to ask God’s blessing 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 who you are right down to the core so that it becomes part of who they are. 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 to provide those new soccer cleats—not to make Johnny feel guilty for the shoes, but to help him be thankful for Dad’s sacrifice. In fact, Dad can smile when he gives those shoes because he is delighted to give the gift even though it costs 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 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, and soon she will no longer need reminders. 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 we get to participate in bringing it about. Thank you for your time.