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"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. 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
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. It is a time to pause, count our blessings, and thank God for His goodness. Perhaps your kids have been writing down their blessings and hanging them on a “Thankful Tree” over the past few weeks. Or maybe your family takes turns around the table sharing things you are most thankful for. Or you may tell stories and reminisce on times that you have seen God’s faithfulness throughout the years. No matter how you choose to celebrate this season of gratitude, you probably hope that the “season” would become a yearlong attitude of the heart in your kids- an attitude of gratitude tough enough to survive the coming onslaught of commercials and material hype leading up to Christmas.
My favorite passage about giving is found in 2 Corinthians 9:10-11, and I believe it also contains the key to growing in gratitude. If we want thankful kids, we must help them become generous givers. Giving and gratitude go hand-in-hand. Here are 5 ways that giving leads to gratitude.
First, giving opens our eyes to the needs of others. When children see genuine need, it goes far in helping them distinguish the difference between needs and wants. It also increases their awareness of- and gratitude for- what they DO have.
Second, giving costs us something. It is good for children to begin to experience and understand the cost of giving; they will be more thankful when they are given something, because they remember that their gift cost someone else.
Next, giving is an exercise of self-denial. Learning to say “no” to ourselves helps us develop contentment and gratitude for what we already have.
Additionally, giving opens us up to experience the joy that comes when God blesses others through us. When our kids get to see the good that God is doing in the world around them they have even more cause to praise and thank Him.
Finally, giving produces thanksgiving to God as we and those who are receiving see God as the Provider of it all. As our kids come to see God as the source of everything we need and the One Who gives us all that we have to give, they will place their gratitude where it belongs...in Him“who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food.”
Recently here at Crossroads, kids and adults of all ages came together to pack Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts for children in other countries around the world. What struck me most was the sheer joy that kids had as they brought in gifts to give, gave pocket change to help ship boxes, carefully selected items that they wanted to send, and spent time in prayer for a child they will never meet. In a season when it’s so easy for kids to get caught up in “What am I going to get this Christmas?,” their hearts were moved with compassion for those with nothing, and all they wanted to do was give.
So I encourage your family to be about giving. Nurture generosity to produce a culture of gratitude in your family circle. And this isn’t just about generosity with treasures, but time and talents as well. There are plenty of ways to give that require little or no money. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Share a meal with a shut-in
- Volunteer in a soup kitchen
- Collect gifts for foster care packages
- Visit a nursing home and read, sing songs, or recite poetry to residents
- Help an elderly neighbor with cleaning or yard work
- Donate toys or clothing to another family in need
The beautiful thing is that God promises to “multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.” We can be confident that as we raise up our children with a love for giving and a gratitude for what God has given that He will do His part, increasing their ability to give and producing thanksgiving to God.
Children's Ministry Director