1. The Character Qualities of Joy
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Thankfulness, or gratitude, belongs to a
group of the following related character
"Choosing to be satisfied and at peace
with what God has provided, without
Also: cheerfulness, hope, peace.
See I Tim. 6:5, 6, 8; Phil. 4:11; Heb.
"Recognizing, appreciating, and
acknowledging favors or benefits."
Also: appreciation, gratefulness,
See Eph. 5:19-20; Col. 2:6-7; I Tim. 4:4-5; I
"Delighting in the service and presence of
God regardless of circumstances."
Also: zeal, enthusiasm, heartiness,
See Ps. 100:2; Rom. 12:11; Prov. 15:13; Ps.
2. Teaching About Thankfulness
Thankfulness needs to be taught. It does
not come naturally to fallen human
1. Teach What Thankfulness Means
Start by explaining the following to your
children. This provides direction and
motivation for your study of this topic.
What gratitude or thankfulness is and how and
why it is a part of the character quality of
Why it pleases and honors God.
"Therefore by Him let us continually offer
the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the
fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name"
How it will make them, and those around them,
2. Teach What God Says about
You might want to do this during your
regular daily Bible and devotional time.
Depending on the time you want to take and
the age of your children, address all four
qualities of joy (see above) at once, or just
one or two each day.
Read and discuss the material presented above
Look up and read the scriptures suggested for
each characteristic. Using a concordance,
look up other references.
God commands us to be thankful.
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your
hearts, to which indeed you were called in
one body; and be thankful" Colossians 3:15.
Consider the results of unthankfulness in
"For even though they knew God, they did
not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they
became futile in their speculations, and
their foolish heart was darkened."
3. Memorize Scriptures.
Memorize, review, and meditate on specific
verses or passages related to thankfulness.
See those given above or use those selected
from your own study.
4. Talk about Thankfulness in the Context
of Daily Living.
Throughout the day there are a multitude
of opportunities for your children to hear
you say aloud, "Thank you, Lord,
for . . ." or for you to talk
about something for which you are thankful.
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3. "To Be Thankful,
You Must Be Thoughtful"
It is easy to take for granted the many
gifts that God has given to us unless we stop
and think about them.
1. Consider Others
One way to think about your own blessings
is to consider those who have less, as
articulated in the proverb "I complained
because I had no shoes, until I met a man who
had no feet."
In America today we can find many people
that have more than we do. This tends to
make us and our children discontent. (In
fact, the secular media's featuring of the
rich and famous, combined with commercials
that are intended to make you crave more, is
a good reason to turn off your TV for good.)
On the other hand, your family can find
those around you that have less than you do
in terms of physical, family, and spiritual
blessings. Looking farther from home
poor of Africa can show us the relative
luxuries even the poorest of us possess
2. Our Response
Besides providing a reminder to be
thankful, let these examples prompt a
practical compassion in your family as you
find ways to share your blessings.
The best blessing you can share is the good
news of God's love and forgiveness.
Especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas
times, rescue missions appreciate gifts that
enable them to provide meals and/or beds for
Your family might offer help to home-school
families who suffered loss in the California
fires (see information on CHEA's
Benevolence Fund) or join with families
in Georgia praying for rain to provide relief
from their drought.
Look for someone in your church that doesn't
have family nearby and invite them to share
your Thanksgiving feast or other meals with
3. Thanks for What We Do Have
The example of looking at a glass of water
as being either half empty or half full
illustrates the two ways that we can view our
lives. Teach your children:
Instead of dwelling on your problems, look at
your blessings and thank the Lord for them.
Instead of looking at how bad a situation is,
look at how much worse it could have been and
thank the Lord it wasn't.
4. Provide Examples of Thankfulness
The most powerful influence on your
child's character is example, for better or
worse. You can help your child by
good examples of thankfulness and avoiding or
pointing out examples of unthankfulness.
The example you set is primary. As your
children observe you being thankful
throughout the ups and downs of your life,
they will be more likely to become thankful
"Do not be deceived: 'Bad company corrupts
good morals'" (I Cor. 15:33).
Children who watch a lot of commercials on
TV, especially at this season of the year,
will probably develop intense desires for
things they do not have, rather than being
thankful for what they do have.
Like-minded friends who show a spirit of
thankfulness can be a positive influence on
3. Examples in Scripture
God has given us many examples in
Scripture of right behavior for our
edification and of wrong behavior for our
David is the most prominent example; he wrote
hundreds of verses in the Psalms that show
forth his thankful heart.
Job, in the midst of his loss and misery, and
Paul and Silas in prison, are prime examples
of praise and thankfulness amid suffering.
"But about midnight Paul and Silas were
praying and singing hymns of praise to God,
and the prisoners were listening to them"
4. Examples in Stories and Literature
Look for and comment on examples of
contentment, gratitude, and joyfulness (or
their opposites) in your children's and your
Family Read-Aloud Time
Spend an hour at a time reading uplifting
literature aloud as a family on a regular
basis. (See Gems of Christian Literature
on Sale at Keepers
of the Faith.)
Follow your reading with a discussion of
the character qualities displayed or other
5. Establishing the Habit
Help your children establish and maintain
the habit of thankfulness.
1. Start with the Attitude
If your children assume that they
"deserve" certain things, they will not be
thankful for them.
Help your children understand our dependency
upon God for everything we are and have.
"For in Him we live and move and exist"
Teach your children what God says about being
content with only food and covering.
"But godliness actually is a means of
great gain when accompanied by contentment.
For we have brought nothing into the world,
so we cannot take anything out of it
If we have food and covering, with these we
shall be content" (I Timothy 6:6-8).
Explain that anything God or others do for
us, or give us, is an occasion for our
2. "Please" and "Thank You"
Include thankfulness in the basic rules of
courtesy that you set for your family.
Teaching your young child to say "Please" and
"Thank You" whenever he asks for, or is
given, anything is a practical way to teach
him to be thankful and to show it.
Start by saying it for him at appropriate
times, even before he can talk.
A gentle reminder and later (or for older
children) a pause while waiting for them to
say "please" or "thank you," if consistent,
will soon establish the habit.
You might review this rule with your older
children to good advantage as well.
Make sure your children thank others outside
your home when they are given something, are
wished something (e.g., "Happy Birthday" or
"Have a good day"), or have a service
performed such as opening a door or being
served a meal.
3. Reinforcing the Habit
Discuss good examples of thankfulness, such
as how good it makes you feel to receive a
prompt and handwritten Thank You card from a
Have your child keep a Thankful Diary in
which he writes all
the things he is thankful for and checks off
those for which he has expressed thanks.
4. Thanking the Lord
Hold hands around the table and quote a verse
and sing an appropriate hymn or chorus of
praise and thanks.
When growing up, our family held hands and
sang "Thank You, Lord" before prayer at
dinner every day.
6. Thanking Others
There are many people in our lives to whom
we owe our gratitude.
1. Parents and Other Family Members
Model and teach your children the habit of
noticing, appreciating, and thanking family
members. Not only is this right and
but it also motivates good behavior and a
Thank the cook after each meal and the person
who does the laundry for clean clothes.
Thank children for doing their chores, for
being kind to each other, for going beyond
their assigned duties, etc.
Thank Dad each night for working for the
Besides spoken thanks, surprise one
another with a note in Dad's lunch or under
your child's pillows, etc.
These are those who love us and our
family, encourage us, stand by us, and help
us. We might be tempted to take our
for granted, but how it warms the heart to
receive a note like:
"Thank you for all your love, support, and
friendship over the years. Your family
so much to our family. One of
God's greatest blessings is having friends
Remember, too, your Pastor and fellow Church
One church that we attended provided space
on an attendance card in which to write a
note of appreciation to a fellow church
member. Then the notes were placed in the
offering plate and mailed to the recipient
during the week.
3. Those That Serve Us
Even though the mailman, garbage
collector, and newspaper carrier are paid for
their service, they deserve and appreciate
thanks. This is why many people give
small gift at Christmas.
Include an attractive tract to enrich your
gift with God's offer of eternal life.
Remember also statesmen, authors, and
4. Those Who Have Been a Blessing to Us
in the Past
You may realize that a teacher, pastor,
neighbor, or friend you haven't seen for
years has contributed something significant
and important to your life. Wouldn't
they love to hear that you remember them with
thankfulness?7. How To Write a Thank-You Note
There are many ways to express your thanks
A Phone Call or a Personal Visit
Thoughtful Gifts and Service
Letters, Notes, and Cards
A thank-you note is a very important
expression of gratitude after you have been a
guest at someone's house for dinner or
overnight, received a gift, or been treated
with special kindness and generosity.
1. Write Promptly
Part of the value of a thank-you note is that
it is received soon after the gift or
Procrastination often leads to an
embarrassing lapse of time that can
discourage you from writing at all.
2. Use Appropriate Materials
Choose a nice card or stationary. You can
buy a preprinted Thank-You card or make your
See how to make
cards using many techniques and
Keep a supply of cards or stationary on hand
so that you are prepared to send a thank you
Always use a pen (not a pencil). Your
may need to first write out his message on
plain paper and then copy it into the
3. Be Specific
Mention the gift or service by name when
thanking the sender.
Say why you like the gift and what you plan
to do with it or how you will enjoy it.
If you enjoyed someone's hospitality, tell
them something specific that you
4. Mail It!
Follow through with putting an address and
stamp on your note or letter and putting it
in the mail.
Keep stamps on hand to encourage card and