Why do parents teach their children to say “Please” and “Thank you”? What is the point of teaching your kids to say “Yes ma’am” “No ma’am” or “Yes sir” and “No sir”?
Are we simply trying to teach our kids to have proper manners or hoping that by having good manners this will turn into a behavior and our kids will become average members of society?
When a child asks why, we reinforce what we told them with “That is what you are supposed to do.” or “Because I said so.”
How long will it take for your child to figure out that those are excuses because you really don’t know why you are asking them to do what you said?
You can teach your child to have good manners and how to act in most social situations. You can push your child to make great grades and graduate with honors. You can push them to pursue a career that pays well and has great benefits. You will have a child that is an honorable member of society.
Your child can go through their entire life in your care chasing after what you told them was important and never be pointed to Jesus.
When I read the Bible, God calls us to do more than just make our children fit into culture.
We want to shepherd well our child’s heart. Another way of saying this is that we want to cultivate a heart that loves and wants to obey Jesus within our child.
Listen carefully, I am not saying transform your child’s heart, only Jesus has the power to transform a person’s heart. I am saying cultivate your child’s heart.
The word cultivate means: to promote or improve the growth of; to develop or improve by education or training.
You cultivate the heart of a child by discipling your child.
What about us?
We have a tendency to listen to a sermon or read the Bible and think it is a list of things we need to check off instead of a way of life that Jesus wants to instill in us.
Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
If we are not careful, we can easily create an outward behavior that is void of any inward change.
We become disconnected from what Jesus wants to do to transform us when we believe that church is a building and not the people, when we attend to get something from the service rather than how we can serve the church. People start saying things like, “I want to go deeper. I want deeper teaching.” There is nothing deeper than for the disciple to apply God’s word to their life.
The word Christian is synonomous with the word disciple. If you are a Christian, you are a disciple. However, you can be a Christian and have your heart be far from Jesus.
This happens when we know about Jesus but have not been wrecked by Jesus. Right? We know about David and Goliath. We know about Samson, Elijah, John the Baptizer, Noah, and Jesus but we never put the pieces together to see how those people and their stories are written to point us to Jesus, Himself.
We know what sin is. Our hearts are from Jesus when we are not grieved by our own wickedness and want to repent from it. We need Jesus to draw us to Himself through repentance.
Paul says that rejoicing always, praying without ceasing and giving thanks in all circumstances is the will of God.
This is the will of God.
Surely God is more concerned with our heart instead of our outward obedience.
Why do you say a blessing over your food before you eat it? Are you truly thankful for what you are about to eat?
Being thankful in all circumstances is about having a heart that is truly thankful.
You cannot give thanks in all circumstances if your heart is selfish, anxious, or complaining.
Jesus wants to instill in us a thankful heart.
Instill means: to infuse slowly or gradually.
I have a cookbook by Emeril Lagasse. A lot of his recipes frustrate me. Why? I am a Rachel Ray fan. Right. Any meal that I can cook for my family in less than an hour is awesome by my standards. So 30 Minute Meals works great. I don’t have the patience to work through an Emeril cookbook.
For example: You want to cook a pork loin. You go to the store, buy all the ingredients and head home. You unwrap it and look at the recipe. It calls for you to make a marinade injection. Ok. You get your olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, whatever the recipe calls for and you mix it all together and pour it into your injector. Ever notice that the injector looks like a syringe with the world’s longest needle sticking out from it?
So, you inject the pork loin in various spots with this marinade that you have made. Then you look back at the recipe. It tells you to get some plastic wrap, wrap up the pork loin and put it in an airtight container and let it sit in the refrigerator for two days.
Two days? Who has that kind of time? Why two days?
It takes two days for the meat to absorb the maximum amount of the marinade that it can possibly absorb. Then when you take it out of the fridge, you are going to sear it on the top and the bottom in a very hot pan. This creates a crust so that when you put it in the oven, the juices from the pork loin will not escape. Then you follow the recipe. You find a baking dish and put the pork loin in the oven. As it cooks, the juices from the meat and the marinade that you injected into it two days ago start to mix together. Then, when you bite it, every bite is delicious and filled with the flavors that have infused their way into the meat for the last two days.
It is a process.
You are not going to go to bed tonight and wake up tomorrow with a thankful heart. Selfishness and complaining does not go away overnight.
You want a thankful heart instead of a selfish or complaining heart? You cannot transform your heart. Only Jesus can transform your heart.
However, you can cultivate growth in your heart. You have to want to grow. You need to be discipled and poured into so that you can pour out into the life of someone else. You can only take someone as far as you have gone.
You need to be intentional about cultivating thankfulness in your heart.
Don’t dwell on what you do not have. That can cause a spirit of envy and jealousy.
You want God to grow you and mature you. Ask God for wisdom and grace as you grow and learn. Ask other people how they cultivate a heart of thankfulness in their own lives.
Look at how God has wired you. How do you best learn? How are you best challenged? Find ways that you can grow and learn that best fits how you learn.
All of your learning, reading, podcasting, however you learn…those are just seeds. Jesus causes them to grow into fruition. They mature and grow and you start to see change in your life. You are less of who you used to be and more of who God created you to be.
You cannot have a thankful heart, an obedient heart, a transformed heart, or a heart that responds to the Holy Spirit apart from Jesus.
I want to leave you with this.