Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pay Attention to Your Giving

"Are we poor?" Twisting around in the front seat to check out the expression on my son's face, I asked, "Are you serious?" Never one to abandon his position, Nick rattled off his evidence, "We live with Aunt Jo and Uncle Ralph, we can't afford new clothes, not good ones, anyway, and anytime I need money for school, you get mad!" The move back home, the career change, the sacrifices necessary to save for a downpayment, all at the same time, changed our family's spending habits. Nick made a valiant effort to process the changes using his seven-year-old worldview, and came to the obvious conclusion: we were now poor. Makes me smile to this day. Nick doesn't remember asking the question, but he remembers that every Sunday we placed a check in the church offering basket.

A child's sense of what matters and his attitudes about money and stuff and God are formed day by day, every day. From the tenderest of ages, our children soak up their world by studying people--all people, all the time--people at home, people at church, people at school, people in public, people on television. Too often the messages teach them they don't have enough, they need more.

What are you teaching your kids about money, about spending, about saving, about giving, about stewardship of God's monetary blessings? Pay attention to your giving. Your children do. Jesus does, too.

1 As Jesus looked up, he saw some rich people putting their gifts into the Temple money box. 2 Then he saw a poor widow putting two small copper coins into the box. 3 He said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow gave more than all those rich people. 4 They gave only what they did not need. This woman is very poor, but she gave all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4 NCV

This lesson calls for: play money, one piece per child, a large, clear coin-filled jar, and a church offering basket within easy reach.

(As the kids arrive at the front of the church, hand each a piece of play money while asking questions. You will get some cute answers.)

This is play money.
Do you have any real money?
How do you get real money?
Where does money come from?

Here is a story about money.
Jesus went to church. He watched the people giving money to God. Jesus kept His eye on a rich man who put in lots of money. Will one of you play the rich man? (Choose a big boy.) Al, you are the rich man. Put your hand in the jar, and get as much money as you can hold. Get lots. Now put all those coins in the basket. Good job.

Jesus also spotted a poor woman who put in only one cent. (Hold up a penny.) What is this? (A penny) Is this much money? (No) The poor woman only had one cent. It was all of her money. She put her last cent in the basket for God. Will one of you play the poor woman? (Choose a little girl.) Anna, here is the poor woman’s money. Now put the penny in the basket. Good job.

The poor woman had no money left. She could not buy bread or any food to eat. Why did she want to give all her money to God? Was she silly? No. Did she worry? No. The poor woman gave everything to God, because God always gave everything to her. She trusted God to give her food. Somehow He always did.

God gives everything to us, too. Can you name some things God gave you? Raise your hand if you have a mom. Raise your other hand if you have a dad. You all do! God gave you all moms and dads! Do your moms and dads drive a car? God gave you all cars. How about food? Did any of you eat breakfast this morning? Waffles? Oh, my, what a yummy breakfast. God gave you moms and dads, houses, cars, food, even toys and games and clothes. That is so much! God is good!

(God bless Cameron, who spoke up.) “My dad and mom don’t have any money to buy me what I want.” (Or you can start this topic by asking, “Do you sometimes want something, and your mom or dad say, ‘No, we don’t have money for that?’”) Cameron, here is what you need to think about when that happens. Dads and moms get all this money from God. First they give some money back to God because they want to thank Him. Second, they use some money to pay for a house. Do you boys and girls get to live in the house? Third, they use some money to pay for a car. Do you children get to ride in the car? Fourth, they use some money to buy clothes for you boys and girls. Moms and dads buy you clothes again and again, because you grow! They also use some money to buy food to feed your hungry tummies.

Moms and dads must be careful with the money God gives them. They try to be smart when they spend money. They try not to waste money, because money is a big gift from God. Are any toys and games at your house, Cameron? Not all the toys and games you like, but that is not a bad thing.

Here in our church, we all give money to God, too. We pass this basket around, and people put in some money for God. Does Jesus take a peek at us when we give money at church like He did in our story today? Yes, He always sees us.

Remember the rich man and the poor woman? Jesus said one of them gave more. Raise your hand if you think the rich man gave more. Raise your hand if you think the poor woman gave more. The rich man had a lot of money left over. He didn’t care about the money he gave to God. He didn’t even need it. Jesus said the poor woman gave more, because she gave all!

Bow heads, close eyes, fold hands. Let’s talk to God to thank Him.
Dear God, You give us everything. Thank you! Please help us not to want too much. In Jesus name we ask, amen.

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