In the story of the widow woman who gave a couple of small coins, all she had in the offering, Jesus doesn’t say what motivated her to give, He only says that she gave more than the others because she gave all she had. Giving all she had, no matter the amount, was faith-filled, extravagant giving. I think she gave because she wanted to give out of a love for God and a love for others. Perhaps she gave because she had somehow experienced God’s love for her in the past. She wanted to give because she deeply loved God. Maybe her giving was an act of trust and faith. She knew she didn’t have much to give, but she also knew that God would care for her. I think her giving was also motivated by the gratitude. Though she didn’t have much to give, she wanted to give back. She wanted to help others like herself who were also in need. Whatever her reason, she gave extravagantly because she gave all.
How can we learn to love and give our all, our hearts and our lives to God? I think it starts by realizing how very much God loves us. His love is extravagant. He gave His all for us. He gave His Son Jesus. As God’s love grows in our hearts, loving and giving stems from a heart of worship and gratefulness to God for all He has done. It’s a way of saying to God, “I love you.” As we grow in our relationship with God, loving and giving begins to grow naturally in our hearts. We want to love and give. Hopefully it becomes a part of everything we do.
But if you are a parent you know, that learning to love and give doesn’t always come naturally. Ask any parent of toddlers and you will find that rather than loving and giving, the Toddler’s Creed seems to be, “If I want it, IT’S MINE! If I give it to you and change my mind later, IT’S MINE! If I can take it away from you, IT’S MINE!” Toddlers do not give or share readily and since sharing is a first step in learning to love and give, here are a few thoughts on helping toddlers learn to share.
* If you want your child to share, model generosity yourself. The old adage, “better caught than taught” is applicable here.
* Notice and praise when your child does share – even if it’s soggy crackers. You could say, “That was nice of you to share with your friend, I will get you each some crackers to eat.” Talk about how others have shared especially when you see it in action.
* Be patient and give more attention to the times your child shares than the times he/she doesn’t.
* Play games that involve sharing and taking turns. A game could be as simple as rolling a ball back and forth. Rolling a truck or car back and forth would work too. Counting blocks and building together. Putting puzzles together and simple games such as “Memory” are all good for helping your child learn to share.
* When having a friend over to play with or going to another child’s house, talk to your child about sharing. EX: “When Jamie comes over, you can share your toys with her.”
* When possible, have multiples of some toys such as two trucks or two dolls so that your child and his/her friends can each have one.
* It’s okay to put a special toy away when a friend is over. Learning to share doesn’t mean your child has to share everything. Even as adults, there are some things that we hold dear and may not wish to share with everyone.
* When siblings have problems sharing or are fighting over a toy, you can put the toy in time out or if your child is a young, distract him/her with a different toy. Other ideas would be to set a timer letting one child play for a few minutes and then giving the other child a turn.
* Role play sharing. How do you ask for a toy when you want a turn? What do you say when someone else asks you to share? What about when someone takes a toy away from you, what do you do? Encourage your child to use his/her words, but remember he/she is still learning and may not know how to ask or what to say in different situations. Role playing gives the child a chance to practice and learn what to say.
Let’s remember to thank God that we can share this week. He is the giver of all good things and His supply is not limited by our resources so happy sharing! And as for loving and giving, make it a lifestyle. Receive and extend God’s grace to others and also to yourself. Loving and giving is an act of worship. Whatever you do, do it as though you are doing it for God – whether it be giving a smile, wiping a toddlers runny nose, doing laundry or serving at church, know that God is with you and when you do those tasks with grace and thankfulness, you can worship God in the process. As for giving, if you are having trouble giving, I find the best way to give with a grateful heart is to start somewhere. Just give something and thank God as you give it. All that we have belongs to God anyway and He knows exactly what you need. Thank Him for supplying all your needs and then give.