In Acts 20:35 Paul reminds the church at Ephesus these words of Jesus, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Just take a moment to think about whether you believe that or not. How are you more blessed? Do you feel more blessed when you give? It can be easy if you have children, the few moments when they see a new present and delight fills their faces, it’s easy to see why giving can be so good.
Ten minutes later when they’re bored with your gift, the shine may have come off a bit. Still, it’s more blessed right? The thing is, I think the western societies in which we’re raising our children, are the sorts of societies where for most adults receiving is by far the superior alternative. So much so, that receiving or getting is seen as more of a human right really. You only have to think back to the summer riots in London and the many links to consumerism to see that attitude in its grossest expression.
If, generally speaking, those are the sorts of adults we are producing and I want my children to be different from that (less rioting would be good for a start), then I need to start training now. However, the early signs are not encouraging. This year, really for the first time, we are helping our three year old son discover the joy of giving. His initial reaction was grave concern, ‘I’ll still get presents won’t I?’ but even with that fear calmed, he remains unconvinced that giving is anywhere close to as good as getting.
We want giving to be in many ways, it’s own reward, we want the act of giving to radiate joy and fun, and lead to more cheerful giving. We’re going to introduce giving to those poorer than ourselves, and other such things, because giving is a habit that needs early introduction. It seems we have a default setting and it’s not ‘give’.
Any ideas, how have you seen giving best demonstrated, shared and taught to children?