Has an atmosphere of complaining, blaming, and discontent been present in your home lately? It’s easy to have these things gradually creep in unawares, because they come naturally to our sinful nature. There is an antidote, though, and it’s so simple we might easily miss it:
We tend to talk about it a lot in November, and maybe we even teach our children about thankfulness to God. But, what about putting it into action the rest of the year?
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Thankfulness can be cultivated as an attitude of heart.
Jesus said, “…Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man, out of the treasure of the heart brings forth good things…” Matthew 12:34, 35
But how do we get the complaining out and the thankfulness in?
Interestingly enough, although heart attitudes are revealed by our words, on the reverse side, we can restock our hearts with God-pleasing attitudes by training our mouths to speak right things.
Stop and take a “praise break” when grumbling sets in.
Ephesians 5:18, 19 tells us,
“...Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
When you hear complaining going on, take a few minutes to lead your children in singing songs which extol and give thanks to the Lord, being thankful to God. You will enjoy the break, and it will disrupt that bad attitude, too.
Furthermore, something supernatural takes place when we praise the Lord: we are refilled with His Spirit! Notice also that it says, “speaking to yourselves in … spiritual songs.” By using your mouth in this way, you are cooperating with the Lord to change your heart.
Talk about the Lord’s lovely nature often with each other.
As the parent, you will be the one who has to initiate this most of the time. Point out to your children God’s attributes and why we can be thankful to God for each of them — His truthfulness, mercy, faithfulness, kindness, purity, love, patience, forgiveness, etc. Frequently ask them to think about how they have seen His goodness toward them in everyday situations.
I love Malachi 3:16:
“Then they who feared the LORD spoke often to each other: and the LORD hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who feared the LORD and who thought upon His name.”
He’s talking about those who think and talk about Him, and He is so pleased with their conversation that He records what they say in a book! We can remind our children that God is very pleased when they focus on Him and talk about how wonderful He is. Remembering His goodness instills in us a thankful heart for Who He is.
When it seems like everything’s going wrong, stop and count your blessings.
There’s nothing that kills a complaining attitude like recalling what God has done for you in the past. It will lift your spirits and get your thoughts headed in the right direction again. In our human nature, we tend to focus on what has gone wrong, and miss noticing all the good things the Lord is doing for us.
Psalm 106 talks about the Israelites’ rebelliousness. They saw God do miracle after miracle for them, but then, “They soon forgot His works. They did not wait for His counsel, but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness and tempted God in the desert. And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul” (Psalm 106:13-16).
In other words, when they had a desire which wasn’t immediately gratified, they forgot what God had done for them in the past, got impatient, and whined at Him. He gave them what they wanted, but they did not have the inward satisfaction which comes only with being in right relationship with God.
That can happen to us, too, when we complain instead of having a thankful heart, showing thankfulness to God. The antidote is to deliberately recall the blessings God has given us in the past.
We can then say, “Lord, I know you have given me many good things, and I thank You for each one of them. Your past faithfulness leads me to trust You for the things I need and want now, too!”
If you will keep these thankfulness to God tips in mind and continue working on them with your children, complaining will become less and less frequent, and your home will be a happier place.
For more tips on teaching thankfulness to God, see Lee Ann’s post, Create a Habit of Thankfulness in Your Children at How to Homeschool My Child. You might also like Lee Ann’s book, Character Building for Families, Volume 1, which includes unit studies on gratitude, contentment and cheerfulness.
Lee Ann Rubsam is the author of Character Building for Families, Volumes 1 & 2 and numerous other books on homeschooling, prayer, and Christian living. She homeschooled her now-grown children for 25 years and continues to mentor younger homeschool moms.
NOTE: Not all views from guest bloggers are the views of Kerry Beck or How to Homeschool My Child.
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