If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11)
I want to give good gifts to my children. I want to see their faces light up when they unwrap a gift and are delighted with it. I want to hear my five-year old say,”I always wanted that. It’s my favorite.”
Whenever that happens I’m as happy as they are.
But let’s face it, most gifts which are unwrapped at Christmas time are not the kind that last. They are gifts which wear our, rust out, break, tear,or otherwise end up in the garbage. Sometimes my wife and I give our children toys – things that spin, sparkle, and make noise. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s these gifts that bring the biggest grins when the paper is torn and the box exposed. I’m happy to watch my children get excited about such gifts. But I know they are just novelties. I know today’s shiny object will be tossed away tomorrow.
In light of this we try to give our children gifts which will last much longer. We do this not by giving gifts which are manufactured better, but by giving gifts which will impact their lives longer – educational toys and books. We still give them clothes and shiny objects but we make educational gifts a priority.
As I think about gift giving this year I realize even books and educational gifts aren’t the best kind of gifts. Giving the best gifts is more abstract. The best gifts don’t come in packages to be wrapped and unwrapped.
Let me illustrate by listing some gifts which will be a blessing to my children but will never be place under the tree. These are good gifts which cost no money. Many more could be listed but these came to my mind today.
First – the gift of loving each other well. Our children need this. They need their parents to show affection to each other. By doing this we create a feeling of stability in the home. And we create a model for them to imitate.
Second – the gift of reading. By this I mean both reading to them and helping them become readers. We read a lot in our home. My wife reads to the children at lunch time. I read to them at dinner time. We talk about books and buy books. My wife’s vehicle is at the library so often it knows how to get there on its own. If my children take up the habit of reading good books because of the culture in our home, then we will have given them a good gift.
Third – the gift of prayer. My prayer life is far from what it should be and I don’t model it as it could be modeled. But I do pray with and for my children. This is a great gift to them which they will appreciate later in life. I pray for their salvation, I pray for their health, I pray about the things going on in their lives.
I’m reminded this year that the best gifts don’t come wrapped with a bow. The best gifts come from the heart and get unwrapped in the lives of my children each day.