It seems like an odd topic, especially with the holidays right around the corner. How do we teach our children to give? How do we instill in them what the Bible says, that it is more blessed to give than to receive? The way most people seem to be frantically shopping for the newest and latest toy or fad that their children want, it seems like a foreign concept. But, as Christians, it is our duty to teach Biblical principles, rather than wordly ones. I am always amazed that people say they are worshipping the Christ-child at Christmastime, yet how many people ever give Him a gift? How do we worship Christ and continue to amass things to ourselves? People in stores just get more and more selfish and frustrated. They push and shove and even fight one another to get the latest technological gadget. How do we model a different way of giving? First of all, I will tell you that our family does not have all the answers. We do not have it all wrapped up. We are simply sinners saved by grace, and nothing more. These are some of the ways we try to teach giving to our children. God may lead your family to approach it differently.
1) Giving must be taught year round. It is not enough to give gifts to others at Christmas or birthdays...it should be a way of life for a Christian. How much of your income goes to helping orphans, widows, the persecuted church, your home church? These things are a way of life, not a one-time splurge when the mood hits. Christian living is sacrificial living. How about sponsoring a child from Compassion? How about making bags of essentials for persecuted Christians who have lost everything for naming the name of Christ? What about giving monthly to an organization that has blessed your family and needs the funds to further their ministries...Lamplighter, Vision Forum, etc. A tenth of our tithe is the minimum requirement...what about giving more? And that tenth should be before the government takes our money for taxes. God comes first. He should never get the leftovers. We have chosen as a family to sponsor three children through Compassion International in Africa. We allowed our children to choose the sponsored children. They chose the ones who had been waiting the longest for a sponsor and who were in the AIDS infested areas of Africa. My oldest daughter has freely given money given to her to help these children. Showing our children what other children around the world are facing makes them understand their blessings, as well as their responsibilities to help others in the name of Christ.
2) We give regularly to the persecuted church. We pray for Christians being persecuted in other places because of their faith. We receive the Voice of the Martyrs magazine and the children see what it means to name the name of Christ. They realize how much we take for granted in this Western culture of ours. It is a good reminder.
3) We limit what our children see by way of magazines and such. We do not do TV, so they are not bombarded with the latest commercials for toys and such. But, we cannot stop people from sending those free catalogs around this time of year that is chocked full of toys. So, most times before they enter the house, they are thrown away. We choose the catalogs they view. Right now those consist of Vision Forum, Lamplighter, and Keepers of the Faith.
These are just a few of the ways we try to instill giving in our children. And we have begun to see fruit of those labors. Another by product of this is that our children don't ask for expensive gifts and my problem is usually trying to think of something to get them because they do not ask for much. My oldest daugther (14) has asked for a journal, books (such as Joyfully at Home) and a small purse. My son (9) has asked for a $12 pop gun from Vision Forum, a police coloring book and he wants to learn how to play chess. My daughter (7) wants some Betsy-Tacy books and a journal. My son (6) wants deodorant (to be like Daddy), chapstick and a $12 pop gun. And my youngest (4) wants a stuffed guinea pig, a drawing pad, a housecoat and a $12 pop gun!!! She tells me she is going hunting with the boys! What a blessing it is to get a list such as this! May we as mothers continue to teach our children that it is truly better to give then to receive. The best way to do this is always by modeling. May the Lord teach us to be givers...what better way to show the world the love of Christ today and everyday!