Recently I have observed the need for a renewal of gratitude. Gratitude is truly an essential element in maturity. Without it, we can often become resentful, conceited, or selfish. Being thankful tends to make us happier, more resilient, and more generous. Gratitude is a realization and a recognition of reality; an acknowledgement that much of what we have has been given to us as a gift. For young people this often means the physical blessings of a home, clothes, and food. However, it also includes the blessings of relationships, experiences, and the wisdom from those who have gone before us.
Ultimately gratitude helps us have a humble orientation to our God. James 1: 17 tells us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.” Gratitude helps us recognize this truth. The Lord has blessed us with many, many good things, not because of our merit, but out of His great love. Without this appropriate sense of thankfulness, we can be tempted towards pride in our blessings. We may think that we are blessed because we deserve it, not because we have a good Father in heaven who loves His children. Gratitude is essential for both basic human flourishing as well as for spiritual flourishing.
Gratitude also takes work. In many ways it is a skill, and therefore it is something we can work at and help others work at too. Often that means just setting the example and living it out. Grateful people are delightful to be around and seeing their gratitude can help convict us of our own shortcomings in this area.
As grandparents, the opportunity to instill a deep sense of gratitude in your grandchildren is great indeed. Having an attitude of thankfulness will produce benefits in their personal lives and will help them realize how much the Lord has done for them. The person who knows how much they have been blessed by the Lord will be quicker and more earnest in responding generously to His call on their life. May we all be more grateful and respond more fully to God’s call on our lives!
Stephen Giles works as a youth worker with Kairos; has a B.A in Communication from Michigan State University, and lives with his family in Lansing, Michigan.
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