We are, in general, a society of entitlement. People want rights to things without the responsibilities that go along with them. That sense of privilege has contributed to an erosion of thankfulness in our lives.
How can we combat that in our families? How can we get past “what I’ve got coming to me” and cultivate a true attitude of gratitude?
Let’s start by considering the relationship between grace and gratitude. Both words find their root in the Latin word gratus, which means "pleasing." As Christians, we understand God’s grace as His unmerited favor. There is nothing we have done (or ever could do) to earn it. It pleases God to extend grace to us because He loves us. Receiving this grace creates an overwhelming sense of gratitude in us. We are “pleased” that God has chosen to love us in spite of ourselves.
On this eternal scale, gratitude is not difficult to find. After all, this is eternity we’re considering. In the day-to-day, it can be a little more challenging. It is easier to take the smaller things for granted. Learning to express heartfelt gratitude may require us to look at what others do for us/give to us/extend to us a little differently.
Ask some questions of your family. “Why do mom and dad pay for piano lessons? Why do we do your laundry? Why do we have cookies in the house?” Obviously, you need to substitute situations that fit your family. Show them that it is not because you HAVE to; there is no universal law requiring cookies! (Although, maybe there should be.) These things happen out of love for each other and a desire to please one another. This is how we extend grace to each other.
Follow this up with: “How would your life be different without those things? Better? Worse?” Look closely and you may see light bulbs appear over their heads. This is where thankfulness can start to put down roots. The little acts of grace that we do each day will become magnified.
Try making a list of all those grace acts for your family. Say “thank you” to the family member who does each thing. Make sure parents are setting the example of expressing gratitude for the grace they receive.
Once you’ve gotten started, this concept will naturally outgrow your house. You will begin to see acts of grace everywhere you go. And the attitude of gratitude will truly become part of who you are as a family.
Click on a circle below to see some easy ways to apply this value to your family.