Creating a Culture of Thanks
On New Year’s Eve 1961, Dr. W. A. Criswell stood before his congregation at the First Baptist Church Dallas, Texas, and for nearly five hours preached an epic message tracing what he called “the scarlet thread of Scripture” through every book of the Bible. With captivating authority, Criswell revealed how the theme of Christ’s blood atonement serves as a unifying motif for the entire Bible.*
More recently, Sally Lloyd-Jones, in The Jesus Storybook Bible, has done a remarkable job highlighting this same unifying thread in a way that captures the attention of young readers. The Passover lamb in Exodus foreshadows Christ as the ultimate Passover Lamb. Jonah in the belly of the fish for three days foreshadows the burial of Christ in the tomb for three days. On and on you could go. The shadows are fascinating and numerous.
Closely connected to this scarlet thread is the idea of thanks and remembrance—thanks for what Christ has done through His redeeming work, and remembering His work of salvation through symbols and the retelling of this grand story … particularly to children and grandchildren. This emphasis upon the telling and retelling of the scarlet thread to children is my focus here.
Several scriptural examples will help illustrate this biblical mandate:
Deuteronomy 6:20-22 -“When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes.
Deuteronomy 11:19 – “You shall teach them to your children…”
1 Chronicles 16:12 – “Remember the wondrous works that He has done…”
Psalm 78:4 – “We will not hide them from their children but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might and the wonders He has done … that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn.”
1 Corinthians 11:24-25 – “and when He had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’”
The mandate is clear. As parents and grandparents, we have a divine calling and obligation to pass on the oral tradition of storytelling, but not just any story. THE STORY. The story of the scarlet thread. The story of Jesus. We must remind them of what God has done. Remind them of what He has done for humanity through the cross. Then remind them of what He has done for you specifically. Tell them how Christ saved you. Share your own story with your kids. Remind them of how He provided for your family when money was low and bills were many. Remind them of how He saw you through an impossible situation.
Then, thank Him together. Create a culture of thanks within your home by making it a habit to stop and acknowledge God, the author and provider of every good thing. Remembering and thanksgiving go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the other, because when you remember, it stirs thankfulness and gratitude in your heart. When you are grateful, you remember the source of your gratitude—who God is and what He’s done.
Here are some practical ways to create a culture of remembrance and gratitude in your home:
- Place visual reminders around your home of what God has done. You might use Scripture passages or pictures of times and places where God intervened and showed off. For example, in our house we hang pictures and paintings as visual reminders of our life in Uganda where God showed off during our adoption of Alethia.
- Read through the Jesus Storybook Bible as a family, carefully tracing the scarlet thread through every story. Thank Jesus together for the cross and salvation.
- When you pray before a meal, don’t just ramble off the same words every time. Pray specifically, thanking Him for the unique ways He has provided for your family.
- During mealtime, go around the table and have everyone share something specific that they are thankful for.
- Make it a habit of sharing with your kids the unique ways that God has showed off to your family. For example, when that mystery person puts money in your mailbox at just the right time, tell your kids. Don’t keep it a secret. Help them see that it is God who is at work behind the scenes.
- Whenever possible, take communion together as a family and explain the imagery of the bread and juice to your children, pointing out Jesus’ sacrifice for sin.
- Finally, don’t miss a single week of our yearlong sermon series The Story beginning January 11 at Journey. Grab your copy of The Story and begin taking your family through the grand narrative of the Bible, helping them see the scarlet thread.
What are some ways you create a culture of thanks in your home?
*You can download Dr. Criswell’s entire 3-part message on his website at wacriswell.com