5 of the Best Gifts You Can Give Your Children
- Rebecca Barlow Jordan www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com
- 2012 14 Dec
What parent doesn’t want to give good gifts to their kids? But what kind of gifts should they choose? Here are five of the best gifts you can give your children:
1. Show them the way “home.”
In Kenneth Price’s book, The Eagle Christian, he shares some remarkable facts about the golden eagle. The golden eagle has a unique series of tissues in its eyes which act as a built-in-gyroscope. As long as the eagle is away from its nest, it feels imbalanced, even pressure in its eyes, often painful. As the eagle comes closer to home, however, the pain reduces. It can find its way home even from thousands of miles away because of this God-given sense of direction. Not only that, but it can see objects from miles away.
Our homes here on earth are only temporary. One day we’re going to our real home that God has prepared for all His children who have chosen to follow Him. If we are wise, and use eagle eyes, we will discern where home really is. And no matter how painful life becomes on this earth, or what we go through (our children, too), the pain begins to subside the closer we get to Home–the more we see our real purpose here on this earth, and our real destination. Wise parents will teach their children where home really is.
2. Encourage them to always do the right thing.
A 2008 survey by Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith revealed that when questioned, the majority of 18 to 23-year-olds had no basic standard to measure right and wrong. Most chose to act simply on their feelings–what made them happy as individuals. New York Columnist David Brooks, in his commentary, “Young Adults Left Adrift in Sea of Moral Relativity,” ended his blog with these words: ‘Morality was once revealed, inherited and shared, but now it’s thought of as something that emerges in the privacy of your own heart.”
As parents, we are the ones given the responsibility to teach (and model) God’s moral standards. They are not our standards. They are God’s. “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9 NIV).
The Bible contains God’s moral standards, and His Word, will never “pass away.” Just teaching them does not guarantee our children will always make the right choice. Nor should we promote judgmentalism. Our kids will still make many of their own decisions, obviously wrong ones at times. But when we teach (and model for) children to “always do the right thing,” with patience, grace, and love, they will at least have been taught a standard by which to make personal, wise decisions. And that gives them a head start in recognizing when something is obviously the “wrong choice”–not just what makes them feel good or what “seems right in their own eyes.”
3. Raise your children for greatness, not success.
Tim Kimmel’s book, Raising Kids for True Greatness, emphasizes the difference between greatness and success. What do we emphasize to our children? Scholarships? Degrees? Sports? Awards? Or do we show them how they can be on mission for God, however and wherever God leads them? Is it possible to teach excellence, while still demonstrating a servant spirit?
Which is more important? Washing feet or climbing ladders? Promoting ourselves? Or helping others? Relieving injustice or accumulating $$$? Do they believe in the “Hero or Zero” mandate? Or does servanthood, forgiveness and compassion top their most wanted traits?
I admit somewhere along the line God must have dropped showers of grace upon our home, because I didn’t always “model” God’s standard, even though it was my heart’s desire to do so.
If you…know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11, NIV.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17, NIV
4. Give them unconditional love.
Perhaps no other gift or quality is more God-like than this one. Jesus loved us so much He gave His life for us. And He didn’t wait until we cleaned up our act or “behaved well” to decide we were worth loving (Romans 5:8).
In the same spirit, our children long to know that they are truly loved and accepted by us as their parents. They need to hear, see, know, and feel that no matter what they as kids do, we will love them without conditions. They may require “tough love” at times–just like God uses with us when we turn our backs on him. But the relationship is always there. And so is the love.
When they act out, do you discipline them because they embarrass you or make you angry? Or because you love them? They will sense the difference.
Do you speak your child’s Love Language?
Knowing and understanding your child’s love language is a great way to show that love practically. The Five Love Languages of Children, by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, is a good tool to help you. God knows how to give good gifts–the best gifts–to us because (1) He is God and (2) He knows us inside and out.
Tangible gifts may spell love to one child; time, to another. The words, “I love you,” may bounce off our children’s hearts without registering. But when we “speak” their language, or give our children the kind of gifts that fit their love language, they more readily receive it in a way that “feels” like genuine love.
As husband or wife, you can also give your children the gift of unconditional love by the way you love each other. The same kind of faithful love you show to your spouse is a built-in security wall that will make it easier for your children to receive that from you.
Our children can overlook many of our parenting mistakes if we will give them the gift of unconditional love–(sprinkled with ample helpings of grace) the kind that lasts from their birth, until our death.
5. Dress them in the right clothes.
You can’t buy these clothes, and you can’t force your children to put them on. But until they are old enough to dress themselves, you can make sure this clothing is available. After that, you can pray that they will choose “the full armor of God” daily. And you can model them yourself. The “right” clothes–the full armor of God–include the following “garments.”
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God…. Ephesians 6:10-11, NIV.
(1) Belt of Truth
Buckle that belt tightly around your child’s waist. Jesus is the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the truth! Teach them early to love the Bible, God’s truthful Word.
(2) Breastplate of Righteousness
Pray early on (even before a child is born) that your children’s hearts will be protected by right standing with God. Pray they will choose to follow Jesus at a young age, so their hearts will be covered with God’s “righteousness.”
(3) Shoes of Peace
Choose well-fitting shoes that run well, ready with the gospel of peace to share with others.
(4) Shield of Faith
Give them the shield of faith, an unwavering trust in the name and power of Jesus, to equip them for times of difficulty and temptation.
(5) Helmet of Salvation
Your child’s mind is where their hardest battles will be fought. Pray they wear the helmet of salvation at all times to keep their thoughts pure and clear. Remind them often of Whose they are–God’s child.
(6) Sword of the Spirit
The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. I’ve mentioned it earlier, but without this article of clothing, our kids are at great risk for false teaching and deception. Teach them to hide God’s Word in their hearts, so it will become permanent clothing and protection at all times. His Word is not a weapon for you to beat over their heads. Used accurately, it is the key to right relationship and fellowship with both a loving God and with others.
(7) Prayer in the Spirit
Pray that your children will live in a constant relationship of communion with the God who loves them far more than you ever could.
If you’re a parent, be encouraged! There are no perfect parents or perfect children. And only God gives perfect gifts. But we serve a loving, forgiving God. He loves our children far more than we ever could. And He is always ready to help!
For more from Rebecca, please visit www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com. To sign up for Rebecca's new encouraging blog/newsletter, or to purchase her newest devotional books from Zondervan - Day-votions™ for Women, Day-votions™ for Mothers, and Day-votions™ for Grandmothers - please click here.
Publication date: December 14, 2012