Is your kid a Christian or a Materialist?

piggy bank blogIs your kid a giver? I don’t mean do they give 10% of their allowance to the church and put 10% of their $5.00 income into savings. That’s a great habit. But, the Christian is called to do more. We called to be free will givers, givers who regularly exceed their tithe to meet the needs of others. Do our kids have this heart within them?  Do we?

Why So Much Financial Debt?

I fear the answer for many of us is “no.” The average American household carries around $204, 992.00 in debt. Over $15,000 of that amount is credit card debt. This number is astronomical when compared to our average income.  The average American household salary is $55,192. If people stopped spending and devoted every dime to paying off debt, it would take the average family 3 years and 8 months to get right side up.

I mention these stats not to shame anyone but to remind us all that American culture is not about giving. It’s about materialism i.e. stuff.  The world says that joy is attained via trips to the Bahamas, kitchen remodels, and HD T.V.’s hung on the wall. And so, we Americans spend ourselves into debt, seeking meaning, hope, and value in the stuff of life.

Our kids’ world is no different. Instead of trips to the beach, stainless steal appliances and 90” T.V.’s, our kids find their value in vacations to Disney World, the newest Bratz Dolls, and the latest edition Madden. Because they come into the world as fallen sinners, kids have innate desire to like stuff. And not too surprisingly, our kids our great at encouraging us parents to buy things. According to Canadian researchers, kids directly influence everything from which cereal goes in the pantry to which software Dad puts on the computer. The natural kid excels at coveting stuff. But what about the biblical kid? What about the kid who claims to be a Christian? What should she live for?

Why So Much Giving?

The scriptures say that that the Christian kid is one who gives freely to others. Instead of using his limited income to fill his barn-like toy chest with stuff, he buys his classmate a new coat. The Christian kid counters the culture by living out the truth that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). We read in 2 Corinthians 9:6-8

 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

                Our kids can tithe and save up money to fund well budgeted trips, Playstations, and concert tickets without doing anything to advance their own spiritual life and the proclamation of the gospel. The rich, younger lived for the law and missed Christ. The transformational grace of Christ should move us beyond budgeting to giving. We may not all be cheerful givers now, but this God’s plan for his children.  “God is able to make all grace abound to you.”

To be a Christian is to be a person who excitedly gives from heart as they are able. For our kids this may mean they joyfully give a classmate a pencil or send $5.00 to a missionary.  For us we may 4896996561_541b024452_obuy a homeless man a meal or donate a car to charity. The amount may vary but the heart attitude is always the same. We give generously and freely seeking to expand our faith by glorifying God through serving others.


But what if this is not our experience? What do we do when our kids struggle with giving? What happens if you struggle with giving? How do you become a cheerful giver? Let me offer 4 insights from Paul that have helped my heart.

What Do We Remember?

  1. Remember what giving is not. Giving is not an element of salvation. Giving is not to be done, “reluctantly or under compulsion” (7). No one needs to give to earn God’s favor. Nor do with give to earn the praise of our fellow men or to earn a deacon nomination. We are fully saved by the work of God on the cross apart from human effort. Giving is not a work of the law. It is an act of Grace. We don’t have to give to earn favor with God.
  2. Remember What Giving is: Giving is an act of faith. We give to reap bountifully. We give as much as we are able because we desire to grow in our faith and because we desire God to bless our lives. Many Christians have both depressed spiritual and physical lives because they don’t give. We can’t grow if we are unwilling to sow. If we our unwilling to submit our wallets to God, we cannot expect him to bless with more money. He will not encourage us to develop habits that lead us away from the throne room of heaven.
  3. Remember What God Gave: Ultimately, we are generous givers because everything we have was given to us. Giving in cyclical. We give because we have been giving things. If we have a pencil or a million dollars, we have it because God gave it to us. When we give things to others, we are handing over things that were given to us from God through other people. We aren’t giving our stuff away, we are giving away God’s stuff. Most importantly, the greatest thing we have and the only thing we can take with us after death, our salvation, is a free gift from God. God gave us the most awesome gift ever. He became poor so that we could live more abundantly (2 Cor. 8:9). If we get this truth, how can we not give?  
  4. Remember Who Gets the Glory: Often when people think of giving they think of the people getting the stuff. Biblically, this is slightly off base. Yes, we give to others because we care about people and their needs. But ultimately, we give so that God will be praised. Our giving is not based on the quality of the need. We give so that others will look at us and praise God for his work.

Giving is not a natural impulse. But it is a divine mandate. If we will stay at the foot of the cross and plead with God to change our hearts, we can and should be confident that we will become givers. Until that point, we keep reminding ourselves about the above for points.

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Why Big Kids Cry

Why Big Boys CryI LOVED winning baseball games as a kid. Nothing seemed more glorious to my childhood psyche than that $9.50 first place trophy. Yes, my aspirations were pitifully small (this may explain why I had to repeat second grade) but my desires were drenched with passion. I practiced every chance I got; I played hurt at times; and, I publicly challenged my coaches bad decisions. I was all in for the trophy. Finally at the mature age of 11, I snagged I did snag me a championship trophy. Oh the Joy! Sadly, it was short lived. The following year, my team topped out at second. I ended my little league career crying in my dad’s car too angry to speak.

Why The Tears

I mention my own experiences with rec league baseball because they point to an important truth. Nothing will satisfy us other than Jesus. If our kids are living for baseball, good grades, or musical perfection, they will not be satisfied. Their little emotions, self-esteem, and joy will fluctuate drastically with each success or failure. Often kids who lose it when they lose, fail, or make a mistake are not just sensitive. Most are idol worshipers whose idol just got exploded by dose of reality. Because their hope for fulfillment was based on their efforts, they cry.

The Solution For Failure

Despite what Nike commercials say, the solution is not to practice harder or to start earlier. Getting more trophies, more money, and more fame will not make our kids more fulfilled. As Solomon concluded, “I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:11). Kids who strive for more and more worldly success will only find more and more emptiness.As David Platt writes,

The desire for more is a trap. As we indulge this desire, it destroys our soul bit by bit. And it may destroy us forever – p. 40.

The solution is to make Christ everything. “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you” (John 6:27). We should remind our kids that their worth, hope, and joy are ultimately found in Christ! Yes, God has given us sports, knowledge, and the arts. But, we are to use them for his glory and not for our satisfaction. When we try to find satisfaction in stuff, we get only disappointment because we lose sight of God. Jesus said it this way:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. – John 6:53b-57

Nothing other than Jesus will save us. And nothing other than Jesus will make us happy in this life. As John Piper said,

The deepest and most enduring happiness is found only in God. Not from God, but in God – p.23.

As we gear up for a spring full of activities, let’s encourage our kids to feed on Jesus! Below our three tips for making this happen:

Three Tips For Heavenly Success

  1. Model our dependence for Christ. We need to pray and be in the word regularly. We need to make service to others andcounter culture the worship of God our highest priorities. We need to fight the temptation to find our satisfaction in our kids’ success. And, we need to depend on prayer and scripture when making decisions. In short, we need to find our joy by obeying God’s commands!
  2. Discipline sin. When we see our kids throw tantrums or snap at a coach, we handout suspensions. We end practices for our kids and make them take time off. We help them see that obedience to Christ is a way bigger deal than success. True, our kids may suffer at little on the field or in the classroom. But honestly, this is ok. As Jesus says,

    For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? – Mark 8:36

    My parents disciplined me often for my on field exploits. And because of their faithfulness and because of the Holy Spirit, I came to see that real life was not found on the Baseball diamond.

  3. Ask God to save. Ultimately, only those who the father calls will believe. As the saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink (even if everyone closes their eyes and bows their head and mutters something).” As parents, we can and should expose our kids to the beauty of Christ, but kids won’t embrace Jesus on their own. The Holy Spirit must open their eyes. Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” John 6:44). Pray for God to work.

Works Cited

Piper, J. (2003). Desiring God: Meditations of A Christian Hedonist. Sisters: Multnomah Publishers.

Platt, D. (2015). Counter Culture: a compassionate call to counter culture in a world of poverty, same-sex marriage, racism, sex slavery, immigration, persecution, abortion, orphans, and pornography. Carol Streem: Tyndale House.