Of all the qualities God tries to build into our character, gratitude seems to be one of the most obvious. It doesn’t take long to tell if someone is thankful or not. It’s the kind of quality that sets a pattern for the rest of an individual’s personality. “Gratitude,” “gratis” and “grace” come from the same Latin word.

So do “ungrateful” and “ingratiating.” No one straddles a middle line when it comes to gratitude. Either you’re thankful, or you’re not, and everyone usually knows which one you are (or aren’t).

Why do you suppose God has so much to say about the importance of gratitude? We hear “Give thanks” repeated throughout the Psalms, and Jesus Himself pauses to give thanks to the Father before setting a table for five thousand hungry guests in Galilee.

I guess God not only knows that gratitude makes us more gracious, but He also knows what happens when gratitude is absent. Have you ever stopped to think about what gradually happens to your child’s heart when they learn to show gratitude to others and even to God? Or what happens gradually when our children neglect to demonstrate gratitude?

If they don’t learn to be intentionally grateful, they develop some pretty unhappy habits: an unhealthy ego, burned-out friendships, taken-for-granted family members, a sense of entitlement, constant discontentment, frustration, anger, relational dysfunction . . .

Sometimes people turn over and over trying to figure out God’s mysterious will for their lives. This one’s not a mystery. I Thessalonians 5:18 makes it clear. If you want to know what God’s will is, it’s gratitude. “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

Something extraordinary will happen in the heart of a child when they learn to look for something to be thankful for in every situation. Gratitude is something that will affect every relationship your child will have. It will affect how they see God, how they see others, and even how they see themselves.

So, take a gratitude check. If you can help your child make a gratitude adjustment, that is something you can be thankful for.