In 1999 my husband and I moved to the Lower Yakima Valley to pastor a church and raise our family. Relocating to a new town to answer the call of God and impact the community for Jesus was an adventure we eagerly embraced. There was so much to learn about our new home and the culture of the area.
One thing I was unprepared for was what I perceived as a lack of manners among the kids. The first day I taught Children’s Church, I was shocked that none of the students said, “Please” or “Thank you”…ever. Saying “please” and “thank you” was standard practice in my home and some of the first words I taught my own children.
Instead, requests were demands. “Gimme that!”
When the students received anything, they acted as if it was owed to them.
I quickly embarked on a mission to not only teach the Bible, but to pass on the importance of manners. I figured if I started with the children, it might rub off on the adults. Within a few weeks, it became standard practice for the kids at church to say “thank you” to God, and to say “please” and “thank you” to each other.
To me saying “thank you” goes beyond social courtesy. It is a way to show gratitude and kindness. It abandons the attitude of entitlement that we humans are so prone to adopt.
Behind every “thank you” is the acknowledgement that I really do not deserve any good thing that comes my way (no matter how small) and I am blessed to receive it.
During this Thanksgiving season, we emphasize appreciation to God for the many blessings He has bestowed on us. We become more focused on His goodness to us and we express thanks. We open our eyes to the grace we have been given. This is as it should be.
The Apostle Paul penned these words as final instructions to the Church in Thessalonica. They are sandwiched between instructions for healthy relationships within the faith community and instructions for corporate worship. It’s as if he’s saying, “In a nutshell, this is how to thrive as a follower of Jesus Christ.”
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV).
Along with rejoicing and praying, giving thanks should be an every-day-throughout-the-day activity.
Thanksgiving should describe our posture toward the Lord. It should also describe our posture toward others. Expressing our gratitude to the people around us is an important (yet often overlooked) element of living a life of thanksgiving.
Take personal inventory for a moment. Do you regularly and frequently express thanks to others? What about…
The customer service representative or coffee house barista. But that’s their job!
The strangers you encounter along the way. But I don’t know them. That would be awkward.
Your children. But they’re doing what they’re supposed to, and I had to remind them five times.
Your employees or followers. That’s what they’re paid for (or what they signed up for). Besides, they could be doing so much more.
Your friends. They already know I appreciate them.
Your spouse. What?!!! Really?!!!
How did you do? Which area do you need to address most?
It’s natural for us to notice what people do wrong. Unfortunately it produces criticizing, complaining, nagging, and frustration. However, living a life of thanksgiving begins when we pay attention to what people are doing right, and we express gratitude for it. We give the gift of “thank you.” The Spirit of grace will flow, producing the love, joy, peace, and other fruit we so desire.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3)
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:17).
Heavenly Father, thank you for blessing me. Help me to grow in the grace of gratitude, not taking your gifts for granted. Teach me to express thanksgiving more often to you and to others, so that giving thanks becomes a way of life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.