Children are like sponges, or so they used to tell me when I was growing up. Having children of my own, though, has certainly demonstrated that this is incredibly true.
Our children copy what my wife and I do, which is either rather gratifying or quite daunting, depending on what they are copying. They also copy what they see their cousins and friends doing; what they see at a Disney show and what other people with whom we interact as a family are doing.
Not only do children copy us, they also quickly absorb habits that become regular patterns in the way they behave. Sometimes those habits are charmingly cute, while other times they are not, but it does make you stop and think. What do we want our children to absorb? What heart habits do we want to disciple our children to develop that will shape their future in this world and throughout eternity?
For me personally, I keep coming back to Jesus and the way He lived and walked and laughed and related. The one characteristic that I keep seeing in Jesus is compassion. For example, Matthew commented that “Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick” Matthew 14:14 (NLT). Being compassionate for people in need is one quality that I would really like my children to have. However, true compassion does not remain just a heart feeling. True compassion is followed by a powerful action—being generous—and that is what we see Jesus doing. His compassion led Him to be generous with His time, with His understanding of the kingdom of God and His power. In fact, Jesus was generous with the giving of His whole life for us.
As we all would well know, there are many people who are in need in the world. Some people have an incredible need for fresh water or physical security. Other people have a need for adequate education or freedom. There are also millions of people who are dying for a lack of being able to hear and respond to the eternal good news of Jesus and His love.
The Children’s Ministries and Stewardship Departments are committed to providing resources and training for you to empower your children to be compassionate and generous like Jesus. By modelling generosity in your own life and discipling your children to be generous with their tithes, offerings and community service, we can team up together to light up this world with the love of Jesus.
Contributed by Sven Östring, Director of Discipleship Movements at Greater Sydney Conference.
If you enjoyed the topic of living generously, you may enjoy our article “What I’ve Learned About Living Generously.”