What About Gratitude?

The Good Samaritan

Let me start by saying that I believe that most people mean well. However, good intentions are just that, good intentions and nothing more. As an adoptive dad I’ve heard many comments and questions over the years that have made me smile, grit my teeth, want to explode, and everything in-between.

Some days I wonder if there is a list of things you’re supposed to say to adoptive parents out there on the internet. Surely there has to be because I get the same comments and questions from complete strangers no matter where I go. I can usually chalk most of it up to ignorance or well meaning, but there is one comment that makes my blood boil. When people tell me that my kids need to be grateful because we rescued them, I try not to lose it.

I once heard someone tell a group of adopted kids that they needed to be grateful to their parents for rescuing them. Now I understand that people think about their own salvation in terms of “I was adopted into the Lord’s family and I am grateful that he saved me” and they apply the same mentality to adopted kids. I think there is some idea that our kids being grateful is the correct spiritual response to us.

Gratitude is the correct response to the Lord, I just can’t justify the same response by our kids to us as scriptural.

We are all familiar with the parable of The Good Samaritan. It is one of the most famous passages in all of scripture, so famous in fact that we have Good Samaritan laws in our country. If you render aid to someone in need you are protected by the law.

An expert in the law once asked what he had to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus answers the man with a question and asks him how he understands what is written in the law. The man replies “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The man then asks a clarifying question of the Lord, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus, instead of answering the man’s question responds with a story.

A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ – Luke 10:30-35 (NIV)

You’ll notice that at no point in the story does the injured man thank the man who took care of him. He never offers to repay the man or expresses his gratitude which leads me to believe that Jesus didn’t mention it because it has nothing to do with us loving our neighbor. Jesus tells us to show mercy the way the Good Samaritan showed mercy. That’s it. He never tells us to expect anything in return, least of all gratitude.

We need to embrace our own salvation and live a life of gratitude to the Lord because of what he did for us. We didn’t save our kids, we shouldn’t expect their gratitude because that places unreasonable expectations upon them. Jesus said that His yoke was easy and His burden was light. Ours should be the same.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Ryan North
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Ryan North

Ryan North is the Executive Director of Tapestry, the Adoption & Foster Care Ministry of Irving Bible Church in Dallas, Texas. As Executive Director of Tapestry, Ryan also leads Empowered to Connect. He frequently writes and speaks on connected parenting and ministry leadership.
Ryan North
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