Watch Out For Those Gimmes

As I look around my house, wrapping paper strewn across the floor, packages lined on the shelves, and shopping lists still waiting to be fulfilled, a twinge of conviction nabs my heart. Each present, each tinsel, each afternoon shopping spree has the capacity to send our daughter a message–to train generosity or materialism. Each holiday celebration can either draw her heart further to Christ or center it more firmly around herself.

A while back I realized if I truly wanted to train compassion, I needed to pull her out of middle-class suberbia once in a while. It’s easy to long for X-boxes and other trinkets–to feel entitled and deprived–when you’re surrounded by friends who have those very items you lack. But surrounded by extreme poverty, by those who have little if anything to call their own, those wants begin to fade as something else rises in their place–compassion. Realizing this, my husband and I started to make determined efforts to place her in serving roles, around those who had far less than her. And we’ve noticed a definite change–less of the gimmes and a stronger desire to give.

What about you? What will you do to actively train compassion and contentment this year? Don’t buy into the lie that your children need one hundred gifts under the tree. In fact, those gifts you fought for, stood in line for, scrimped and saved to give them, could very well do more harm than good. Our children don’t need more cause to think of themselves, but instead, encouragement to look beyond and into the hearts of others.  

As parents, may we remember our greatest call is to train not the next CEO but instead, a fully-devoted follower of Christ. With each activity we plan and conversation we initiate, may the lofty call outlined in Philipians 2:1-8 burn fresh in our minds as we remember this call is not for us alone, but for our children as well.

1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

 5In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

 6 Who, being in very natureGod,
   did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
   by taking the very natureof a servant,
   being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
   he humbled himself
   by becoming obedient to death—
      even death on a cross!

Lord, this Christmas remove materialism from my heart and home. Remind me to demonstrate it’s true meaning in how I spend my time, the things I buy, and the words I say. Prevent me from spreading the cancer of materialism into the lives of others and may I instead encourage radical obedience and full surrender.

Join us at Living by Grace as we talk about ways to show our children the true meaning of Christmas.


  1. First Batist, WiseJunction, and Youth Rebellion, thanks for stopping by and sharing your kind words!

    Youth Rebellion, I’m going to check out your site right now. LOVE ministries that reach out to our youth!

  2. So many times the real reason for the season has been forgotten. We need to teach not only our children but others too. Its not about endless shopping for the perfect gift for our family and friends. Instead of giving gifts…here are my suggestions for my nieces and nephews..:
    Go to the homeless shelter and help serve Christmas dinner, after dinner pass out warm hats and gloves or toiletries to the homeless.
    Buy one toy to donate for the Toys to Tots program.
    Shop with a Cop…who purchases gifts and donates to homeless children.
    Bake cookies, cakes and pies and give to the homeless shelter
    Donate their used coats, hats and boots to Goodwill.
    Donate old toys..

  3. I’m pretty blessed to say both of my children have compassionate hearts. This time of year is a definite “gimme” season and while I love to lavish gifts on my kiddos, I want them to know what this season is truly about and WHO it’s about. We’ve always taught our children to serve and I think because we started from a tiny age, they want to.

    A great reminder during this season, and really how we should be all year round. You nailed it!!

  4. Such a convicting post, Jen! Thanks for sharing God’s truth-in a world where it’s so easy to get caught up in longing after the next big thing. Compassion and contentment are keys to overcoming materialism! Great post! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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