Should We Be Quick To Buy Things For Our Kids?

should we give our kids stuff blogMost every parent has been there. You are walking down the store aisle minding your buisness when your child spots a brightly colored new toy. You feel the tug at your heart strings. You love your little guy and can see that the yellow ball with an odd bumpy texture is bringing him unlimited joy. But at the same time, you had not planned to buy him anything. But then you look back into those little eyes, and his kindly, sheepish grin breakouts. What do we do?

Well if you grew up in a situation similar to my background and to my wife’ background, we simply tell him,  “N..O… no.” Our parents had no quandary when we asked for them stuff because they had no money. “We can’t afford that right now,” was a common mantra for both of us.

But what if we do have money, what if we can afford to buy our kids a new toy or video game when they ask? Should we do it?

On the one hand, God says it is good to give gifts.  And, we should seek to imitate our heavenly father by giving our kids good things (Matt. 7:11). We should seek to loving care for our children by sacrificing our wants for their needs.

But before we rush to the checkout line with our kid’s new ball, we also need to think about what our new purchase will teach our child. Often when our child becomes fascinated with a new ball, video game, or pair of shoes, she is coveting. She is seeking satisfaction in something other than Jesus. And when we buy our kid the latest copy of Madden or the new pair of Nike’s, we are helping him pursue his latest idol. We are enabling him for a brief moment to find his happiness and identity in something other than Jesus.

And of course our kids will love us when, we give them what they want. They will try to reward us with hugs, complements, and an occasional day of good behavior. They always like it when we help them achieve their idols.

But often giving our kids the things they want is not the most loving thing a parent can do. Satisfaction, happiness, and joy are only found in Jesus. As Psalm 73:25-26 says,

Whom have I in heaven but you?

    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail,

    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever

Consequently, we want to parent in such a way that our kids are taught to find their satisfaction in Christ. We should not throw money and time behind their every desire. We should rebuke a greedy, covetous heart and redirect it to Jesus.

And here is another thing to remember. Even if our kids get everything they want on earth, they will not be happy. Life is found is God and not in video games, shoes, or travel teams. Earthly things will eventually disappoint. Games will become outdate, shoes wear out, and travel ball eventually becomes boring. If you doubt me, just think about how many of your kids’ toys you’ve already gotten rid of.

Now I am not saying that you should never give your kid a gift. And I am not saying that we can always prevent our kids from misusing the things we give them. What I am trying to get at is this: the decision concerning whether or not to buy our kids something is bigger than the size of our budget. It goes to a heart issue. We should be willing to lovingly deny our kids things for the sake of the gospel. Love is not fulfilling our kids’ dreams. Love is pointing them to Jesus. Are we doing this?

The #1 Kids’ Excuse of All Time and How to Beat it!

Blog He Made Me Do It“He made me do it!” Is perhaps the number one kid excuse of all time! I mean is there a better excuse? Is there a better way to deflect responsibility for our sin than blaming our actions on someone else? “I got mad because my teacher didn’t recognize me.” I snatched a cookie because you wouldn’t let me have a snack.” I.e. I sinned because of you!

Why It Doesn’t Work

The only problem with this thinking is that it is not biblical. God never holds other people responsible for our sin. Not even parents are judged for the sins of their kids (Ezk. 18:20). God holds us responsible for our actions. Regardless of the circumstances, our actions are always just that, our actions. We don’t sin because of someone else. We don’t sin because someone triggered all our defense mechanisms with one rude comment.  As Pastor Brad Bigney said, “That button was already there – the pressure only revealed it.” (p.151). We sin because we want to, because we love something more than God! Notice what James 1:14 says, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.”

Understanding The Real Problem

The very first of God’s ten commandments says, “You shall have no other God’s before me (Ex. 20:3).  To really understand how to only worship one God, we need to take a look at the very last commandment: “You shall not covet.”  These two commandments bookend the other 8 because the first one shows us what God requires of us and the last shows us how to achieve it. To worship God and God alone, we have to treasure him above all else. We can’t have idols in our heart. We can’t covet.

fall-651020_1920The reason we sin, the reason we snap when we don’t get our way is that we are coveting. We are worshiping something more than God. According to Colossians 3:5, covetousness is idolatry. Covetousness creates idols in our heart that replace God.  We look at the nude girl on the screen, we scream at our kids when they get too loud, and we rant on Facebook about our job because we are worshiping something other than God. We lust because we covet human companionship more than God. We scream because we covet a quiet house more than God. And, we rant because we love our success more than God.  Spiritual idols are not just limited to the generic category of sports, money, and fame. They are the daily things we want more than God. They are the things we sin to get or sin when we don’t get them. As Bigney says, “An idol is anything or anyone that captures our hearts, minds, and affections more than God.”(p.41).

The Covetousness Cure

To not covet, we have to love God. And to love God, we have to avoid coveting. This is how we overcome sin. We daily focus upon worshiping God. And, we daily do battle in our hearts. We daily worship God and we daily abandon our idols. This is how we find the strength through the power of the Holy Spirit to obey God and our parents. This is how we avoid lying, stealing, and murder. To grow in Christ, we must actively pursue the things of God. We must actively uproot out our idols

The next time your child tells you that they sinned because of what some teacher, some (crazy) children’s pastor, or some little kid did, challenge them on it. Remind them that they are in trouble not because of what the other person did but because of what they thought, said, and did. They are in trouble because their actions revealed that they loved something more than God.  Help your kids to start asking themselves why they sin. For example, show them that cheating to get a good grade means they love the approval of men more than God.  Expose their hearts to the reality of sin, Then, point them towards the God of the universe!