Scowling Little Children

Some of you know my sweet sister Eliza. She’s two years younger and nine inches shorter and 10 times better-looking than me. We’ve been best friends for 20 years.

But let me tell you a little secret. When she was a little lass, Eliza was hilariously poker-faced. During exciting situations when most toddlers would beam with happiness, Eliza would remain stubbornly expressionless. Not only that, she’d often wear a giant scowl on her face.

This behavior was especially amusing on birthdays. Our family has priceless video footage of Eliza tearing into her presents, looking at the contents expressionlessly, and hurriedly moving on to other gifts without saying a word, seemingly unthankful and unimpressed. My parents were aghast. “Eliza! What do you say? … Say ‘thank you’!” They couldn’t believe her thankless behavior.

(Quick disclaimer: little Garrett’s behavior was not always stellar either.)

Remembering these episodes makes me wonder: how many times does God graciously give us gifts and we respond with total indifference and thanklessness? How many times does He shower blessings upon us and we go on as if nothing happened? How many times do we tear into the presents our loving Father gives us, only to chuck them aside and go on looking for more stuff?

An occasional “thank you” would be appropriate, don’t you think?

God is the great Gift-Giver (James 1:17). And I, all too often, am a gift-squanderer. He gives and gives and gives. I take and take and take—usually, without saying a word. God’s blessings are many and frequent and generous, but my thank-you’s are few and far between.

And that’s a shame, because “give thanks” is an oft-repeated refrain throughout the Bible.

  • Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! | 1 Chronicles 16:34
  • I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart. | Psalm 9:1
  • Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. | Psalm 30:4
  • Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving. | Psalm 50:14
  • It is good to give thanks to the LORD. | Psalm 92:1
  • Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving. | Psalm 95:2
  • As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him … abounding in thanksgiving. | Colossians 2:6-7
  • Give thanks in all circumstances. | 1 Thessalonians 5:18

So should we behave like thankless, expressionless, scowling toddlers? No, of course not—our hearts should be brimming with thanksgiving when we reflect on the blessings God bestows! God is the great Gift-Giver. May we be grateful little children.

Paul sums it all up pretty well in Colossians 3:15:

“Be thankful.”

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