Gratitude according to scripture is an active expression of thankfulness, not just words or actions but actually displaying and living as you mean it. We have taken a deep dive into gratitude itself, as well as 10 ways to show gratitude to God. It is also important to focus on showing those closest to us in this life that we appreciate and care for them, and that we do in fact truly appreciate them. What are some practical and creative ways we can show gratitude to family and friends?
We are in a season where people are more specifically focusing on being grateful and expressing their gratitude for and to others. It is always interesting how we are so prone to neglect gratitude the rest of the year and reserve our thanksgiving for the holiday season. I want to encourage us, though, to use these ideas in practical, everyday life all year long, not just leading up to Thanksgiving itself.
Tell them what you appreciate and love about them
One of the most basic but impactful things we can do to show gratitude to family and friends is to flat out tell them that we appreciate them, what we are thankful for, and that we love them. It sounds so simple, but if you’re like me we need these reminders. Something as simple as a compliment and word of appreciation can make a huge difference to someone’s day.
32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.Ephesians 4:32 ESV
I love that my husband and I have a habit of daily telling each other that we appreciate one another, and I always strive to thoroughly express my gratitude for him and what he does for me. Whether it be little or big, I thank him for it. And not just saying it, but I put my heart into it and truly strive to display my genuine gratitude.
For my kiddo, I try to make sure I thank her when she does something for me or even when she does her chores or listens to instructions I’ve given her. She always very obviously cherishes it when Mom says thank you and that she is appreciated.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. 14 Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.Colossians 3:12-14 CSB
For my friends, I try to be intentional about expressing my appreciation to and for them. I express to each friend my gratitude in ways that speak more personally to each person. To clearly communicate love and appreciation requires us to go out of our way in ways that will speak to them specifically.
Each relationship and person is unique, and each will receive a clear sense of appreciation and affection uniquely as well. It is important that we take this into account when expressing something so important to those close to us. What doesn’t change is the need for this expression and communication within each relationship.
Thank them for both menial and significant tasks
Whether my kiddo completed an expected chore she is well trained in, takes a dirty dish to the kitchen for me, studies hard for a test, offers to do something for me, or makes me a heartfelt surprise, I make sure I thank her for it. This certainly should go hand in hand with telling our loved ones that we do in fact love and appreciate them, but again we so often need the reminder to say a simple yet important “thank you” every chance we get.
2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly[a] mentioning you in our prayers,1 Thessalonians 1:2 ESV
Remember, not only are you to serve the Lord in all you do, but I find it helpful to remember that our family and friends are called to do the same. We should treat our loved ones as fellow workers for the Lord and exhort and encourage them in the work they are doing, no matter how significant or menial it seems to be. Thank them for choosing to bless you with their service, as well as for how they serve God in other ways outside of your personal relationship with them.
Send them a thank you note
Before the pandemic when my kiddo was attending school in person I used to send little love notes in her lunchbox all the time. Now she has a whiteboard in her room and I sneak in there and write a little something to her. She likewise enjoys leaving sticky notes around places she knows we will find them.
These little notes are amazing. Whether it is a thank you, I love you, or a silly joke, it lets the person know you care and appreciate them. This level of expressing gratitude is beautiful because it surprises the other person, and it requires some thought and effort on your part.
12 The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”Ruth 2:12 ESV
Some other practical ways to leave a little note of affection and gratitude are making or buying some thank you cards, leaving a handwritten note where they will find it, sending a text or email, or making a phone call. These are such simple ideas to show gratitude to family and friends but can have a profound effect on the receiver of your note.
Make special time for them
It so often feels like time is the number one reason and excuse people give for not spending time with loved ones. We place work, hobbies, other people, and so many other things above spending time with our loved ones. Making time to invest in our relationships with family and friends is vital to the health of those relationships, and it is a massive way to show gratitude to family and friends.
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 ESV
I have said it before, and I will say it again – you have time, you just choose to spend it differently. Throughout scripture, God teaches us how to prioritize our relationships. He always comes first, our spouse, then children, parents, and other direct family. Then comes fellow believers, ministry, and work.
The main point I want to make right now is that work and ministry come after our personal relationships. We should be prioritizing investing in our personal relationships and striving to live an orderly life, which in turn will help us show gratitude to family and friends.
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.1 John 4:7 ESV
This requires making time for the people God has blessed us with. We show gratitude to family and friends by making time for them, showing them they matter to us, we appreciate them. This enables us to treat them as the blessing from God that they are. Not only does this show them we are grateful, but expresses to God that we are grateful to Him for the people in our lives. Treat those close relationships with true appreciation by investing some time into them.
Pray for them and teach them about Christ
Above all, no matter what else you do, never neglect to show gratitude to family and friends by praying over those relationships. This is a beautiful thing we can do even without them knowing, but also seeking out how we can pray specifically for them will show them we care as well. I pray for my husband and kiddo daily, as well as for my parents, siblings, and other direct family. I also seek out how to lift my friends up in prayer. When I don’t know what specifically to pray for, I still lift them up to God. I thank God for them and seek His protection, guidance, and peace for them.
4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,1 Corinthians 1:4 ESV
Rely on God’s Holy Spirit to guide your prayers over the people in your life. We don’t need to know the details, because God does. Simply lift the people in your life up to God in prayer and encourage them that you are doing so. Express to God as well as to them that you are praying over them, the greatest blessing you could do for them.
2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.2 Timothy 4:2 ESV
Another aspect is to encourage them with God’s Word. Even with my family and friends that are not believers, I let them know I am praying for them, encouraging them with scripture, and am unashamed by my faith and encouragement toward them. Sharing scripture, even for the people in your life who are not believers, can be used by God to uplift them and show them your love and appreciation. It also, of course, can be used to help draw them closer to God.
15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,[a] a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.2 Timothy 2:15 ESV
It can be something as simple as a card or note with an encouraging Bible passage, a text to ask how you can pray for them, or just simply praying over them each day. You can show gratitude to family and friends by daily lifting them up in prayer, praying scripture over them, and sharing appropriate passages with them when the opportunities arise. It is a great act of love to share God’s love with others.
Thank them for simply being in your life
Again, such a simple thing but such a profound impact. I make sure to tell my husband and child that I am grateful for them being in my life. I love my kiddo’s reaction every time. She always has this response of pure wonder. She asks me sometimes if I am happy she is my kid and I tell her every time “absolutely. I thank God for you every single day, and am blessed to have YOU as my child.”
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.Colossians 3:16 ESV
Letting the people in your life know that you are grateful simply to have them in your life is such a beautiful way to show gratitude to family and friends. They don’t have to do anything significant. Just the simple fact of them being in your life is a blessing and is something you are grateful for without anything extra.
Be a good steward of your home and relationships
One way I love to show my husband in particular that I appreciate him is to take care of our home and family as a homemaker. I see caring for my home as an investment into my family and my relationships with them. Even while I was working full time I was the one primarily tending to the home because it is an act of service I know I have been called to provide to show my appreciation for my family and my home.
I work hard to ensure my family is fed, clothed, and lives in a clean, orderly environment filled with love. We can all do this in a variety of ways. From housework, grocery shopping, and meal prep to praying, reading scripture, and bedtime stories I make it my mission to show my family my appreciation by how I care for them.
No matter who you are, being a good steward of your relationships and your home is an act of service that communicates that you are grateful for them and want to serve them. It should not be done grudgingly, not grumbling for them to help, but simply act out of a heart of love and appreciation for them, choosing to serve them in the ways God provides for you to do.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[a]6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV
Serve your relationships by showering them with love, patience, kindness, joy, honesty, and support. Live out God’s definition of love in your relationships, shower it over your home, and relish in the blessings of that love. Pour God’s love out into your relationships to show gratitude to family and friends.
Display the fruits of the spirit within and about your relationships
As we pour out God’s love into our relationships, we will better bear the fruits of His Spirit in those relationships. Love, patience, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness, self-control… all of these fruits take intention. We must choose to express and dwell in these attributes. We should never expect them to just come naturally. We should never just give up when they don’t show up. They take work, intention, and investment. They are a choice.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
When we invest in our relationships and intentionally choose to express these fruits, God blesses these relationships. When we strive to treat others as Christ does, remembering that He died not just for us but also for them, we can humbly serve, love, and cherish those relationships. In cherishing these relationships we show gratitude to family and friends in that we are willing to invest and purposefully take steps toward love and care.
Be a listening ear and comforter in times of need
By investing in the fruits of God’s Spirit, we should be patient, bearing with our loved ones, and choose to stop and listen, help, comfort, and guide them through whatever life throws their way. Just like making time for the people in our lives is important, taking it a step further to make time for them regardless of the ups and downs of life is profound.
17 Iron sharpens iron,Proverbs 27:17 ESV
and one man sharpens another.[a]
Whatever your friends and family are facing, be there for them. Show gratitude to family and friends by simply being there when they need you. Be there when they are rejoicing, when they are mourning, when they are feeling utterly broken or brand new. As Christ is there for us in all seasons, we should be there for those family and friends God has given us.
17 A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity.Proverbs 17:17 ESV
Offer to help and listen in times of want and in times of plenty
Sometimes simply being there, listening, comforting, and rejoicing is not the end of the call. Sometimes we are given an opportunity to go above and beyond for the friends and family in our lives. It is so important to remember that God has given us all we have in order to bless others. What we have is not simply for ourselves, but to be shared and used to advance God’s Kingdom and care for fellow people on this planet as well.
11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV
Sometimes God will give you opportunities to use what He has given you to help your family and friends. Obeying this call, taking the opportunity, sacrificing for their sake can be an incredible way to show gratitude to family and friends.
10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.2 Corinthians 9:10-11 ESV
The other day I needed to drop my kiddo off with my mom for a few hours for a doctor’s appointment. On my way to pick her up, I stopped and grabbed a coffee for my mom, knowing this would show her how much I appreciate her help that day. When a friend is in need, I pray for God to reveal how I can best serve that need and help my friend. Every occasion will look different, but we should always have a heart willing and ready to be used to serve the needs of others in the ways God calls on us to do.
Why we should show gratitude to family and friends
All of us share the call to love God and love others. Expressing our gratitude for others is an important part of expressing our love for the people in our lives, as well as our gratitude to God for giving them to us and us to them. It is also an act of service to love and show gratitude to family and friends.
There are countless ways to show gratitude to family and friends. What are some other ways you show gratitude to the people in your life? What are some areas you struggle to show gratitude to family and friends? Let us know in the comments below and let’s encourage one another to grow in gratitude toward God as well as the people He has placed in our lives.
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