We’re taught from our earliest years to say “please” and “thank you.” I’m reminded of this as I watch our two grandchildren grow through the various stages of social interaction. Their parents are teaching them to say “please” when they ask for something. And when they receive something, they are to say “thank you.” It’s good manners.
Teaching a child to say “please” is relatively easy. You just withhold whatever they ask for until they say “please.” If they want it badly enough they’ll eventually get around to saying it.
Getting kids to say “thank you” is a little harder. As parents we lose our leverage when they have what they want in their little grubby hands. So we’re all the more proud when our children learn to say “thank you.”
It’s an even greater thing when they actually learn to express gratitude. (Yes, there’s a difference in saying “thank you” and expressing gratitude.) Gratitude is an attitude. One can say “thank you,” but not really be thankful. It’s a profound shift in our outlook on life when we truly begin to feel gratitude in our hearts for what has been given to us.
This is when “thanksgiving” turns into “thanksliving.” Thanksliving happens when we are overwhelmed with the realization we are blessed … that we are the recipients of great kindness and grace from God and from other people.
The Psalmist was seized with thanksliving when he cried: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits” (Psalm 103:1-2 NASB).
You see, we have gone from thanksgiving to thanksliving when we want to give something back. The psalmist was blessed, and he wanted to bless the Lord in return.
Thanksliving comes in many shapes and sizes:
• God has blessed me financially; I want to use my financial resources to bless God and others.
• My parents sacrificed for me; I want to return the blessings and sacrifice for them.
• Someone took the time to tell me about Jesus; I want to pass my faith along to others.
• People have gone out of their way to say kind words of encouragement to me; I want to do the same for others.
• Saints in my church invested their lives to build a great fellowship for today; I want to invest my life in building something special for the next generation.
It’s great to say thanks. It’s even better to live thanks.