I feel slighted when the kids do not immediately say "Thank you" when I do the daily grind of providing for them in multiple ways. Be it meals, cleaning the house, yard work, making their lunches, teaching them life skills, etc. Why can't they just say thanks or show a little gratitude?
One of the hats I wear is that of a stay-at-home dad. Because of the thankless days, I can feel slighted because they don't seem to appreciate my sacrifices for them. I can feel anger and unappreciated. I can feel like it's a worthless use of my time and energy because they aren't responding to it. This can easily transition to me letting them know how much I "sacrifice" for them. Then I play the martyr, the martyr of manipulation, but...
I am reminded no one appreciated the unmatched sacrifice Christ made that Friday on the cross. Even the empty tomb did not immediately clarify it all, not quite yet. Only when the disciples saw how radically it changed their lives did they appreciate it and even then, it took time for the disciples to grow deeper in their grasp of it. That growth is evident within the New Testament and its development. In fact, we believe it was about 15 to 20 years after Christ ascended the earliest of the New Testament letters and possibly the Gospel of Mark could have been written. (James may be a possible exception.) 1
It then occurs to me it was not until my 20's that I began to appreciate what my parents did and taught me. Even then, I did not fully grasp it. I increasingly appreciate it the older I get. As a child of God, I increasingly appreciate what He did for me and teaches me now. Should I be surprised my kids are not any different?
My sacrifices for the kids are often not as spectacular as I like to think. No sacrifice comes remotely close to our heavenly Father's sacrifice for us. For He loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). And, I am to be an "imitator of God" (Eph 5:1).
My failure often shows in the attitude of a loveless martyr. First Corinthians 13:3, "If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing." I am not going to the flames or the coliseum to be devoured by lions for being a Christian. I am parenting. It's a blessing and a sacrifice. In selfishness, I feel slighted when the kids do not immediately say "Thank you" when I do the daily grind of providing for them in multiple ways.
Playing the martyr of manipulation is to be a loveless martyr. This is not an unloved martyr but an unloving martyr! If my sacrifices and parenting are not powered out of love, then I gain nothing. My children gain nothing. Sadly, in my selfishness, I tend to be so focused on all my activity for them that I forget to focus on them.
Just as Christ gave Himself up for us without demanding a thank you, I can do the same for my kids. They most likely will respond, but they may not. It will take years, maybe generations, to see the ultimate results. Regardless of that response, I still have to give them true love, even in sacrifices, to give them a fighting chance at life in a fallen world. Lord, help me do this!
1. For those who might be interested.
The writing of the first letters of the NT was not a sign "the Christians finally got it." However, they realized it needed to be written down and shared throughout the churches spread out across the Roman Empire to keep everyone on the same page. The message was that important and should not be diluted or forgotten.
The dating of the New Testament writings is debated. Often, those who presuppose the Bible to be less than God's Word argue for later dates and those with a higher view of Scripture argue for earlier. There is convincing evidence for various positions except for the extreme positions dating the writing to late 2nd century or later. More info can be found in resources such as Lightfoot's How We Got the Bible for a quick understanding of the issues. It tends to promote earlier dates.
More in-depth is Comfort The Origin of the Bible. Further, though I have not been able to read this for myself, check out Exploring the Origins of the Bible, edited by Craig Evans and Emmanuel Tov. Evans & Tov are gifted scholars in this field and the book appears to present various views on the subject. Tov is the premier expert in the OT. I want to read it!