We need to be careful to avoid a "checking off boxes" approach to our faith!

What am I talking about? Let me explain.

When most of us were being raised, our parents tried to teach us to say "Thank you!" to people when we were given something. If we forgot, they would ask, "What do you say?" Our response would be something like, "Oh! I forgot! Thank you!"

We checked off the box. Our obligation was finished. Our parents were pleased. We offered thanks because we were expected to do so, not because it was the right thing or the heartfelt thing. I'm afraid that many of us have carried that concept over to adulthood also and do it only to check off the box, not because we really spend time being thankful.

We are not unlike my 5 year old grandson who we had with us this past Sunday afternoon. He spent the day enjoying playing games and making crafts with grandma and wrestling a little with me. An interesting discussion took place between us that afternoon.

Christopher has been trying to save money for a special toy he wants. His parents have given him a list of chores to do, and as he does them, he checks off a box on a list to show he has done what is required of him. If he checks off the boxes, he gets a quarter for an "allowance" which he deposits in his "treasure chest."

Knowing that he is diligently trying to save for this special toy, late in the afternoon I reached into my pocket and pulled out a quarter and said, "Here Christopher, put this in your treasure chest for your toy."

He looked at the quarter for a moment and said, "No thank you."

I asked, "Why not?"

He replied, "Because I have to do my chores and check off the box to get a quarter and I haven't done my chores."

I said, "That's OK, this is just a special gift for you."

Again he replied, "No thank you."

I then tried to explain that this was like a birthday present, you don't have to work for it, someone gives it to you just because they love you and want to give you a gift. He thought about it for a moment and said, "OK!" He then asked, "Do I still get to check off a box?"

You don't have to work for it!
To say that God has been good to us would be an understatement! Unfortunately, we often forget to be thankful. Sometimes we even overlook the Source of our blessings. I fear that even when we do happen to remember to offer thanks to God, many times it is only to check off a box on our list of things to do to please God. We almost see God as the parent who reminds us in our forgetfulness, "Now what do you need to say?" So to check off our box and to get our parent off our back, we say our, "Thank you!"

Thanksgiving, however, is our response to the overflow of grace God has poured into our lives when we allow Jesus to be our Lord. The apostle Paul describes it this way:

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to live in obedience to him. Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done (Colossians 2:6-7).

My prayer is that you give God thanks in response to the overflow of His grace and not to just simply check off some box on your heavenly chores to-do list!