Regardless of their budget, culture, or age, parents enjoy seeing their kids happy. They take them to Disney World, build those ridiculously hard to assemble Little Tikes Toys, and even buy them a goat. They do all this and more becaue they love their kids. Jesus put it this way,
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him.
In a very real sense, we love giving our kids things because this reflects the heart of our creator. It’s a natural impulse because God create us to follow him.
But as with all human impulses, this impulse can become tainted by sin. As we try to give our kids good things, we can sometimes miss the mark. We can sometimes give them things that actually lead them away from Jesus. So how do we ensure that we give them the right things all the time? We look to Jesus.
Look To Jesus
In Mark 3:7-10, we discover that Jesus is really popular. He was more than trending on social media. His ministry blew the roof of the media world of his day. The stories of miraculous healings and exorcism had reached a fevered pitched. People from all over the ancient world were flocking to Jesus. They were all desperate to touch him and be healed. And what did Jesus do? He withdrew. He got into a boat and sailed a little way out to sea. That’s right, Jesus put an end to the healing frenzy. He stepped away from some of the neediest people of his day. And why?
He wanted to offer them something more. He wanted to give them eternal life. While Jesus knew that healing was a blessing, he also knew that his blessing did not save. God’s good gifts of heal and wealth did not fix people’s sin problem. And so, Jesus withdrew to preach, to teach, and to offer them that which never expires. He offered them himself, eternal life, peace with God.
As parents, we need to learn from our Lord and savior. We need to realize that good gifts do not equal God. We need to understand that paying for a kid’s college education, buying them a car, or sacrificing everything for their sports career does not equal their salvation and happiness. And we need to come to grips with the reality that it is possible to focus on and enjoy God’s good gifts and yet miss God. As Jesus later said in Mark 8:36,
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
From Gifts Back to God
So how do we keep our kids focus on God? How do we be like Jesus and make sure our audience knows that Jesus and not cars, careers, or trophy’s satisfies? First and foremost, we preach the gospel. We teach our kids at home via family devotions, conversations, and our actions. Second, we pull back worldly gifts when we see them leading our kids away from Christ. If the gift of a great education leads our child to sloth, if a car makes our child irresponsible, and if focusing on their sports career leads them to boasting, we pull all these things back. Again none of these things are wrong or evil or bad. But if they lead to sin, we should pull them back in hopes of refocusing our kids on Christ.
At the end of the day, we will all reach a point when God’s good gifts stop having value. We will all die. And when death comes, what will our kids be trusting in? Will they be trusting in God’s gift or the savior who came to seek and save the lost?