Raising Thankful Lepers

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thankfulness-concepts-2

The picture Jesus paints for us of the final days for planet Earth in His Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 is hardly cheery. In this passage He warned His disciples of looming famines, earthquakes, lawlessness, “wars and rumors of wars”, and even martyrdom. These are dramatic and catastrophic events. We refer to them as “signs of the times”; Jesus referred to them in words we moms can better relate to as “birth pangs” or in today’s language, contractions. Again, not a cheery picture, to be sure.

Jesus offers another less dramatic, but bitterly painful sign of His return: “the love of most will grow cold”. Given this particular “birth pang”, it seems the Day is fast approaching. We live in the land of cold hearts we observe in a myriad of painful expressions from “road rage” to murder.

Another way this has manifested itself is through ingratitude and an attitude of entitlement. Many children grow up believing everything is owed to them. They “deserve” a Facebook account, a cell phone, an iPad, a trip to Disney World, a car, a college education, etc. Many adults have also bought into this thinking. In fact, they are the ones peddling this attitude of ingratitude to the next generation. And this seems to be the logical conclusion: if we’re entitled to everything, we don’t have to be thankful for anything.

But those of us who are Christians know this just isn’t true. We aren’t owed anything, except God’s justice. The only thing we do deserve and are “entitled” to is hell itself. The fact is, we owe Christ everything. What we should marvel at is not that we don’t have what the girl next door has, but rather the fact that God has lavished His grace and love on us through the extravagant gift of His Son, Jesus.

Ingratitude is nothing new. Jesus confronted this negative attitude in Luke 17 where ten men afflicted with leprosy sought healing from Jesus and received it. After He sent them off to show the priests they’d been healed, only one returned to give thanks for this miraculous gift. Christ’s lesson was simple; be thankful. I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

So the task at hand is obvious: we need to teach our kids thankfulness. One meaningful way to do this is to teach them to write simple thank you notes expressing heartfelt thanks for gifts or acts of kindness. When our kids were young, we had them write these kinds of notes, usually the day after they’d received a gift. We made sure they mentioned the gift and the reason(s) why they were appreciative. We also made sure the notes were handwritten. It didn’t take long for this practice to become second nature and they continue it today even though they are in their teens and twenties.

It shouldn’t alarm us that our children aren’t naturally thankful; it’s part of our fallen nature. But we do them a favor when we work to diminish the effects of this destructive attitude in their lives. Let’s not let this sign of the times define our children. Let’s raise thankful lepers.

~Barb

Photo Credit: http://www.inspirationfalls.com/thankfulness-quotes/thankfulness-concepts-2/