How can you detect an ungrateful spirit brewing in your children? What type of kids cannot be truly thankful? How is it possible to be thankful for painful situations? Join AMBrewster as he discusses these questions and more with Christian parents who desperately want to teach their children to be grateful.
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Welcome back to our study in gratitude. I hope your kids are joining us or that your plan is to take this information, make it your own, and teach it to your kids.
Truth.Love.Parent. exists to glorify God by preparing dads and moms to be the Ambassador Parents God called and created them to be.
A first part of that is equipping parents to be the men and women of God they can be in His power.
The second part is to help parents equip their children to be the men and women of God they can be through His power.
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Thank you for being God-loving parents, and I’m so honored that you’ve invited TLP along for the ride.
Okay, let’s finalize our discussion about teaching your children to be grateful.
Last time we defined Thanksgiving, and we saw that the ultimate recipient of our gratitude must be God, we saw just a small handful of some of the things we have to be thankful for, and we learned that the root of gratitude is humility, trust, contentment, and joy.
Today we’re going to focus on these things:
1. What is the opposite of thanksgiving?
There are two biblical words on which I want to focus.
The first is covetousness. James 4:1-2 says, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.”
Covetousness is wanting something that’s not yours to have. It’s forbidden by the 10th Commandment.
Covetousness is comprised of the four roots of ingratitude. Arrogance and pride leads someone to think they deserve better than they have. They don’t trust that God knows what is best and is actively working for the individual’s good. They’re not content with God’s plan, and they definitely don’t have joy. This is why they fight and murder and quarrel.
And how does one identify a covetous heart? That’s the second biblical word we need to understand.
Philippians 2:14 reads, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.”
I Peter 4:9 tells us, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
James 5:9 says, “Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.”
Jude 1:14-16 prophecies, “‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’ These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.”
I Corinthians 10:9-10 reminds us of the sin of the Old Testament Jews, “We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.”
And Numbers 14:11 takes us back to the time when God had commanded the people of Israel to enter the promised land, but they not only didn’t believe the good spies, they wanted to stone them for suggesting they could take the land of Canaan. “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them?’”
What followed was forty years of wandering in the wilderness until everyone who refused to obey God was dead.
One of the best things you can do for your children is pay attention to and address their grumbling and complaining.
Complaining is always, always, always, a sin. I don’t care if someone is complaining about someone else’s sin.
Complaining is one of the first natural consequences of covetousness. Greed and envy starts in the heart when someone pridefully believes a lie and stops trusting God. Their joy is immediately sapped and discontentment sets in. But most of that is internal.
Griping and grumbling is usually one of the first external indicators. Of course, fighting is also a huge indicator of a lack of thankfulness.
Covetousness and the grumbling that accompanies it are the opposite of gratitude.
There is so much more that could be said about this, and I defiantly want to equip you to help your children overcome a complaining spirit, but we must move on. Lord willing, we’ll dedicate a whole episode to complaining.
2. Our second focus for the day is to look briefly at the only kind of people that are ungrateful.
Let’s read Isaiah 38:16-19, “O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these is the life of my spirit. Oh restore me to health and make me live! Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back. For Sheol does not thank you; death does not praise you; those who go down to the pit do not hope for your faithfulness. The living, the living, he thanks you, as I do this day; the father makes known to the children your faithfulness.”
There are treasures too deep to mine today, but for now we must see God separates mankind into two categories: the living and the dead.
The living thanks God for His faithfulness, but the dead do not. Death does not praise God, and neither do the dead.
What does all of this mean?
Well, the obvious truth is that unregenerated people, those on their way to eternal death, have nothing for which to be thankful to God.
Yes, by God’s common grace, unbelievers can experience genuine gratitude, but since true thankfulness is ultimately given back to God, those who refuse to submit to Him will not be thankful to Him for anything.
A consistent spirit of ingratitude is often a blaring warning that the individual does not know God. Yes, it may be immaturity or ignorance, but — more often than not — consistent and overbearing discontentment is the fruit of a dead heart.
And if the person truly is redeemed, how much more atrocious is it they’re living like a dead person — completely ungrateful to God for the situation or the person that lay before them?
Again, there is much that could be said on this topic, and it’s an idea about which we’ve spoken often. Our first and greatest goal for our children should be to introduce them to the incomparable God.
Evangelism Parenting is the first responsibility of the Ambassador Parent, and we have dedicated a number of episodes to that discussion. Please check out TruthLoveParent.com and peruse our podcast page to find more.
But lastly, I want to revisit a point from our last episode.
Last time we saw that God commands us to be thankful for all things. I Thessalonians 5:16-17 reads, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
First, a little side note, we did a series a while back called “Help Your Children Discover God’s Will for Their Lives.” That began in episode 158. I mention this because it’s not merely God’s will for you and your kids that you be thankful for the comfortable things in life, but it’s God will for you that you also be thankful for uncomfortable things — the things we’re often tempted to call “bad.”
Second, far too many people have tried to explain away the import of this verse by saying that God could not possible expect us to give thanks for difficult circumstances. Others have acknowledged that we’re to be thankful for painful experiences that yield beneficial outcomes, but they argue that it’s inappropriate to truly be thankful for everything because that would mean we’re thankful for sin and its consequences.
But, my friends, if we want to understand God’s Word, we need to allow God to explain what He means. Consider Ephesians 5:20, “[Give] thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“But how is that even possible? How can I begin to thank God for my prodigal child, my looming debt, my cancer, my homelessness, my unemployment, my hateful family, my hypocritical church members, my lousy job, my failing health, my wrecked car, and my dying child?!”
God has the answer, and I want to discuss it here in brief. But don’t forget to check out our free episode notes linked below. They should be very helpful for working through this material with your family.
I really wish I didn’t have to speed through it, but we have to consider the time. Thankfully, though, the passage we’re about to discuss was the core of the Peaceful Parenting series we started in episode 69. There were 8 parts to that series in which we took our time walking through Philippians 4:4-9.
So, by God’s grace and with His help, let’s try to answer the question, “How do I and my family give thanks for everything?”
Philippians 4:6 sets an enormous standard for our gratitude. It says, “But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
How can the Christian thank God for the painful experiences in life? I believe this verse is perfectly nestled in the midst of the perfect answer.
1. The first focus to which Paul draws us is in verse 4: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”
This mirrors the First Commandment from Matthew 22:37-38. “37 And [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.”
Paul says we must do this “always” — there is never an appropriate time to not rejoice in God. And, just in case we missed it the fist time, Paul says, “again I will say, rejoice.”
Rejoicing in God brings with it biblical optimism and hope. I have hope because God is Who He says He is. I don’t have to fear my circumstances. He’s all holy. He’s all powerful. He’s all knowing. He’s all loving. He’s trustable.
2. If you want to be the type of person who can thank God in all things and or everything, you need to be reasonable.
Verse 5 reads, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand.” The Greek word translated “reasonableness" can also be understood to mean “moderation, gentleness, patience, fairness, mildness, and loving.”
This lines up perfectly with the Second Commandment from Matthew 22:39-40, “39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Paul tells us this love and respect and gentleness needs to be shown to everyone. And he points out that the Lord is at hand. This can refer to the fact that Jesus is literally near. His power is accessible to us here and now in this uncomfortable situation to be what He calls us to be.
But His being at hand also speaks of His imminent return. Luke 12:42-48 says, “42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master's will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”
The fact that God could return at any moment can be a wonderful motivation to keep a heavenly mindset and not be distracted by the foolishness of this earth.
When I love the people God has put into my life, it’s nearly impossible to be afraid of them or mad at them. When I love that person causing me difficulty, my main prayer will be for their wellbeing even if that means it affects me uncomfortably. II Corinthians 12:15 reads, “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.”
If I want to experience true gratitude for all things in my life, I must first acknowledge Who God is and humbly trust Him. I must also love His creation the way He commands.
3. I need to think correctly.
Verse 8 tells us to only dwell on Truth. We’re only allowed to think about that which is worthy of honor, holy, clean, acceptable, commendable, and that which has a good reputation.
Why is this so important? When I think correctly about my situation, I realize the Truth I know about God. I don’t dwell on possibilities that are not honorable or unholy. I don’t fear because I imagine impure or unacceptable thoughts. I envision that which is excellent, commendable, and praise-worthy because that’s Who my God is. Isaiah 26:3 tells us that, “[God keeps] him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on [God], because he trusts in [God].” Peace is a natural consequence of true contentment.
The second facet of keeping our minds right is to exercise our faith. Philippians 4:9 tells us, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things.”
James 4:17 reminds us, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
If I’m choosing to believe what I know to be true, I will walk the path God has created for me. This is the path of gratitude.
And the last facet of our thinking comes from verse 6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
God says we’re not to be anxious or fearful about anything.
In Luke 12:22-34 we read the following, “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. . . And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? . . . O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.”
Luke 10:41 says, “But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,”
And in Luke 12:11 Jesus told the disciples, “When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say.”
And instead of anxiety, we’re supposed to make our requests known to God with thanksgiving.
And what is the outcome of this kind of life?
What is the experience of the man and woman and child who loves God, loves His people, and who keeps his mind focused on Truth?
What will this humble, trusting, contented, and joyful individual reap?
Twice in these few verses God promises that such a lifestyle will produce the following: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus . . . and the God of peace will be with you.”
When I acknowledge who God is, turn that love to my neighbor, dwell on Truth, and live accordingly, how can I possibly be anxious? How could I be unthankful that the sovereign God of the universe is superintending all things for His greatest good glory and my greatest good?
This lifestyle will enable me to experience indescribable peace in the most difficult of times and joyfully thank God for being in control.
So, let me tie this episode up with some final thoughts.
A logical and still mind that’s filled with God’s Truth will know and believe that God is using the testing and trials and tribulations of this world to mature us, grow us, sanctify us. And for that we can be thankful.
This includes our failing health and our depleted bank accounts.
But can or should we be thankful when others sin against us? Should we be thankful for our terrorist children, our zombie children, and our enemies?
I don’t believe we should be thankful for sin. Sin is the ultimate offense against God.
But — you see — therein lies the rub. When I see sin as an affront against me, then I can justify hating everything that follows. But when I see sin as an attack against God, and I acknowledge that God cannot be overcome, but will — in fact — use the sin of man to accomplish His will, then it’s not the sin in which I rejoice, but how God promises to use it.
The most perfect example of this is our redemption. Because of the sin of Judas and the Jewish leaders and Pilate, God purchased our salvation by offering the sinless son of God as a substitutionary atonement for the sins of the world!
Are we glad that evil men attacked God? No, but we give thanks for the fact that God promises to work out all things — even sin — for good.
But remember, we must love Him and be working toward His purposes. And that takes us back to Philippians 4.
I highly recommend that you listen to the Peaceful Parenting series starting in episode 69. It will be a beautiful followup to today’s discussion. You’ll be able to spend more time diving into the deep truth of Philippians 4 to learn what true peace looks like.
Please consider sharing this episode, and join us next time as we discuss Parenting like Lot. Lot’s parenting journey was a sad one indeed, but it’s so very instructive for us. I hope you’ll be back for that.
And don’t forget about becoming a Patron. Forming a non-profit is just one small part of our vision for Truth.Love.Parent. Please prayerfully consider what the Lord might have you do.
Listen, there’s a lot of dark and uncomfortable in this world, but God can command us to be thankful for it all because He knows Who He is and what He plans to do. And for that, we are eternally grateful.
I’ll see you next time.
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