A story from when my kids were young.
“Dad, can you get me my Jesus bank?” It was Saturday morning and I had just given five-year-old Jonathan his weekly twenty-five cent allowance.
“Mine, too,” three-year-old Janelle called. As I got their Jesus banks, the kids got their piggy banks from the fireplace. Then with their two banks side by, Janelle dropped three pennies into her Jesus bank and the other seven into her piggy bank. “If we don’t give Jesus money, then he will be hungry,” Janelle explained, “and that will make him very sad.”
“I’m putting a nickel into my Jesus bank every week,” Jonathan announced. “Dad, can you help me count my Jesus money?”
So we counted pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. “Wow!” Jonathan’s eyes got big. “Jesus is rich! A dollar and twenty eight cents!”
From time to time, money would come out of the kids’ Jesus banks. Our family had a tradition of having a birthday party for Jesus shortly before Christmas. At the table after supper I asked the kids, “Do you know how we can give a birthday present to Jesus?”
“No,” they answered.
“Well, Jesus said that anytime we help someone who is hungry, or thirsty, or sick, or needs clothes, or is in jail, we are helping him (Matthew 25:31-46). So what are some ways we might give Jesus a present?”
We brainstormed three or four options. The kids chose one suggested by my sister–helping the kids in a Central American refugee family come to the United States with their mother to join their father. Jonathan and Janelle emptied their Jesus banks. My wife and I added money from our sharing fund and they wrapped the gift. Jonathan copied “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESUS!” onto the name tag.
Then we all piled into the car to go see the man who was arranging for the plane tickets. The kids presented the gift to him, we lit the candles on the birthday cake, and everyone sang “…happy birthday, dear Jesus!”
On the way home Janelle said, “I knew we were going to a birthday party for Jesus,” then referring to our host, a thirty-something man with shoulder length hair, she added, “but I didn’t know Jesus was going to be there!”
Whenever our children got money, they gave Jesus his part first. By setting aside money every week, whenever they learned of a need, they were prepared to give. Giving to Jesus was fun. They loved it!
I’m so thankful I had parents who taught me generosity by example, and from as early as I can remember, I gave God the first part of every dime or dollar I received. Not only does “God love a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7), but living generously has made my life—and now the lives of my adult children–so much richer.
- Who modeled joyful generosity for you?
- How are you feeding habits of joyful generosity in the young people in your life?
Image courtesy of jimbophoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net