Halloween makes kids selfish, little, candy monsters. Every chance kids get surrounding Halloween is filled with “I want candy!”. It’s not even a question, it’s a straight up demand. The resounding “NO!” that follows that same question is then followed by a predictable, yet still infuriating, “I WANT CANDY” & foot stomping. So what’s a parent to do?
Well in the spirit of giving & in solidarity of what God has laid on my heart in the last year, Halloween will be another opportunity to reduce selfishness & excess. Last year, each my son was able to pick out a predetermined number of candy pieces & everything else was put in treat bags & given away to others: mail men, trash man, post office workers, teachers, baby sitters, neighbors, pastors, cashiers, waitresses or waiters until all the additional candy was gone.
Kids, like all people, need to be givers & need to learn joy in giving. I wasn’t consciously taught that lesson as a child & I’ve seen it in my selfishness & reluctance to give, as an adult. I wasn’t by any means overindulged & genuinely appreciated gifts & treats as a child, but I never learned the joy in giving & doing for others.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 tells us that God rejoices in the cheerful giver. It specifically says in verse 7,
“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
God loves a cheerful giver. I would be willing to bet that most people are not naturally cheerful givers. Sure it is easy to give & you feel good about giving when there is an abundance of something or you don’t want whatever it is your giving, but what about when the well runs dry or you really want what you’re being asked to give? I’m pretty sure my kids don’t want to give away their candy, but I am going to ask them to. They need to see that their generosity makes other feel good & appreciated. The need to see that their willingness to give is a good thing & that will, hopefully, do good in their heart & encourage them to give more.
We aren’t called to give with scorn on our face or a scoff in our voice, but with cheerfulness or as I tell my kids, a happy heart. The greek translation of cheerful is hilarous (hil-ar-os). It sounds oddly like “hilarious” does it not? It means to do it by, prompting or willingness, but with merry. So whether we give out of the willingness of our hearts or the prompting/command of someone else or the Spirit, we are to do it with merry…joy…happiness…whatever you want to call it. Put a smile emoji on your heart & go to it.
Romans 12:6 & 8 expands on this topic,
“Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us it to exercise them accordingly:
…if it is contributing/giving to the needs of others, let him give generously/with liberality…” [NIV, ESV, & NASB translations].
Giving joyfully is a gift from God for some, they honestly enjoy giving & it is their way to serve the Kingdom, my husband is like that; but for some, it is a learned skill. Just because it isn’t a gift that is given to us, like leadership or prophecy or service, doesn’t mean it isn’t a skill we can develop & get better at. Going back to 2 Corinthians, God loves a cheerful giver.
So, as we go into this season of the year that is about receiving & thankfulness, don’t forget about the giving part & the importance in our lives to be a joyful, merry giver.
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