Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2018
Texts: Matthew 6:19-21; Ephesians 2:8; 1 Peter 4:10; Luke 7:37-47; 2 Corinthians 8:8-15; 2 Corinthians 9:6, 7
Kids today are less grateful than in the past. No, really. It’s easy for everyone to complain about “children these days” and their “lack of respect.” But in a recent Wall Street Journal online article by Jennifer Wallace, there is a growing body of evidence that in today’s “selfie culture” there is a noticeable “drop-off in everyday expressions of gratitude.”1
Besides sharing research that shows that most people are less likely to have an attitude of gratitude than 10 or 20 years ago, Wallace taps Dr. Weissbourd, a psychologist from Harvard’s School of Education. He believes parents have been fed a myth that children will feel better about themselves if parents “praise them, cater to their every need and make them feel happy.” But Weissbourd thinks it has backfired. “When parents organize their lives around their kids, those kids expect everyone else to as well, and that leads to entitlement. …And when children are raised to feel entitled to everything, they are left feeling grateful for nothing.”
Wallace’s article meshes well with this week’s Sabbath school lesson on gratitude. God knew that it was for our benefit to give offerings in gratitude. Dr. David Rosmarin agrees. He works as an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and is convinced gratitude is a spiritual emotion. He has demonstrated that “general gratitude was associated with less anxiety, less depression and greater well-being.” He even links gratitude toward God as reducing anxiety and depression.
The article also points out that students who were more grateful were also better “at managing their lives and identifying goals for the future.” They also enjoyed stronger relationships with their peers. Kids with a spirit of gratitude had more prosocial behavior and were less aggressive. They handled everyday annoyances much better than their peers.
God created us to live unselfish lives of service. When we function according the Lord’s plan for gratefully giving, we will experience more peace in our lives. Gratitude springs from thinking deeply about how much God has given for us. Contemplating the life of Jesus, especially Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, deepens our sense of thankfulness.
When we recognize how much God loves us and take time to count our blessings, the spirit of gratitude will flow freely from our hearts. We will not give our offerings with reluctance, but from a joy that spills over into every area of our lives.
~ For Reflection
Connecting: What is your favorite way to show thanks to another person? Do you like to send a card with a personal note, give a hug, give a gift, take him or her out to eat, etc.?
Sharing: Reflect on 2 Corinthians 8:8-15. How do we practically apply this passage to our lives? How can we be generous in a Christlike way?
1. There’s a difference between giving to others out of a heart of love and giving out of a sense of obligation.
2. When the gift of grace is in our hearts, we will be motivated to give to others because of what Christ did for us.
3. If God abundantly blesses me, I have a greater opportunity to share with those who have little.
4. Some people are helped by gifts of food or cash. Others will be enabled by and abuse those gifts.
5. What people do with the gifts we give is not our problem; it’s in God’s hands. Let it go!
Applying: Create a short skit that shows different attitudes of two people sitting in church during the offering. As the plate/ basket goes by, each person in turn quietly expresses his or her thoughts, revealing a good motive and a bad motive for giving.
Valuing: Are you motivated by a spirit of gratitude when you give offerings to God? Reflect for a few moments on your own heart in relationship to the stewardship of your finances.
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