Tis the season for malls, shopping, wrapping paper, gifts, bows, and ribbons. Maybe you prefer online shopping in your bathrobe with the internet, eBay and UPS. Or perhaps you prefer handmade gifts, baked goodies and homemade cards. But no matter how you look at it this is the season for gift giving. Why? Most people probably give out of tradition. You are supposed to buy gifts at Christmas. It is what has always been done. However, our family likes to look at gift giving a little differently. While it is a tradition at our home it is one with a purpose. We give gifts as a reminder of the greatest gift ever given to mankind. I must admit that I love giving gifts to my children. But toys and trinkets get broken, clothes get worn out and outgrown, electronics lose batteries and stop working, and the latest fad becomes next year’s obsolete. So I ask myself what can I give my children that will last? What type of gifts can I give that have true value?
In a world of busyness one of the most wonderful gifts we can give our children is TIME. December is probably the busiest month of the year for us. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas we go nonstop. There are people to visit, parties and programs to attend, Christmas cantata’s to practice for, gifts to make, shopping to do, etc. But life is short. Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. (Jas 4:14) This truth is especially evident when it comes to children. They do not stay young forever. They grow up fast. As parents we only have a short time to invest in our children. We need to slow down and give our children something that will matter – time. Time with us, time to play games, time to talk, time to come apart from the world, time to meditate upon God, time to read together, and time to be a family. I have heard it said that the quantity of time does not matter as long as you give your children quality time. This is not true! Research has said that parents spend on average 3.5 minutes a day in meaningful conversation with their children. How sad! However, the average child watches 1,500 hours a year of TV. I guess if you want Hollywood to raise your children then this statistic would not bother you. But dear Christian parent is should bother you. Turn off the TV and spend TIME with your children. Read to them at night, pray with them, and sing songs. When they grow up and look back at their life these are the things they will remember.
Another gift we can give our children is a home filled with PEACE. The world is hectic and noisy but our homes should be a gentle haven of rest for our children. Our children should not have homes filled with screaming and shouting but with soft answers and love. The fruits of the Spirit should be manifested in our homes – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. A home filled with peace not only blesses our children but consider what a true witness it is to the world around us. Voddie Bauchman in Family Driven Faith states, “Our homes must be rife with the aroma of love. Those who visit us should notice immediately that they have left the world of self-serving egocentric narcissism and have entered a safe harbor where people value and esteem others above themselves. Outsiders should enter our homes and never want to leave. Our neighbors should find excuses to visit us just to get another whiff of the fragrant aroma of love. The brokenhearted should long to be near us. The down trodden and abused should seek us out. Families on the brink of disaster should point to us and say, ‘Why can’t our home be like that?’” This describes a home filled with PEACE. What a superb gift to give our children.
Another gift that is so overlooked in our modern culture is the gift of LOVING and RESPECTING the children’s father. While loving your children is a given, a high value placed on loving their father is often ignored. Notice the order of things that the older women are to be teaching the younger women mentioned in Titus 2:4-5, “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” The focus of the family should be on the marriage. Children are in the home for a short time and the relationship they have with their parents change but this is not so in the husband and wife relationship. When parents are united the children are blessed. When I demonstrate to my children proper LOVE and RESPECT for my husband God is glorified and the children’s faith is strengthened.
While giving gifts let’s not forget the gift of HARDWORK. Society will tell a child that you should do as little as possible to get as much as possible. It is this fallacy of thinking that has led to lazy people and an abuse of our welfare system. But, give your children the gift of learning how to work hard and they will always be able to thrive. In addition, it is pleasing to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; (Col 3:23)
One of the greatest gifts we can give is the gift of INNER BEAUTY, especially when it comes to our daughters. Godly women are not born, but raised. There are many mothers concerned over whether their daughters have fashionable clothes and the latest styles. And many mothers would be alarmed if their daughters were wearing dirty clothes. But how many mothers care if their daughter has a filthy heart? To teach and train our daughters about inner beauty that is acceptable to God is a divine gift we can give. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. (Proverbs 31:30)
There are many gifts we can give our children. But one that is of utmost importance is to give your children BIBLICAL STANDARDS to live by. As Christian parents we should not want for our children what every other parent wants. We shouldn’t hold them to the world’s standards but to God’s standards. Do you want your children to make the team? What about them making it into the Lambs book of life? Do you want them to get a good education? What about them being educated in the Word of God? Do you want them to be true and loyal to their friends? What about your children being faithful to the Lord and His Church? Do you want your children to be popular? What about them being peculiar? God’s ways are always higher. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed” (Rom 12:2a). Christian parent, there are many worthwhile pursuits in this world but few rise to the level of training our children to follow the Lord, to love Him with all we are, to treasure His Word, and to keep His commandments. When we do this we have given our children gifts that never tear up, get worn, or get taken away.
So, this holiday season I’ll be looking for presents for my children and wrapping packages like many others. But the most precious gifts I’ll strive to give them will not be the ones that come in a box. Instead, the gifts I will strive to give will be of eternal value.