A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.
I Corinthians 13:Love suffers long and is kind.
Love does not envy.
Nine-year-old Natasha Leininger is taking a break this week from school in order to travel to Uganda for a ribbon cutting ceremony at a school she raised $25,000 to build. After hearing about the need for schools in Uganda, through Mercy Ministries, she was determined to raise the money by forming a read-a-thon. (Natasha is a student at Summit Christian Academy, a University Model School in San Antonio) No one, not even her mother thought it possible, yet her generous spirit drove Natasha to push through and meet her goal. As a result children in a needy Ugandan community will attend school this year. To the surprise of even her parents, Natasha did not let her age get in the way of what God could do through her generous spirit.
So what does this have to do with “love does not envy?”
To be generous or to be envious are opposites. In fact, fostering a generous mindset will drive out an envious disposition. This is because God’s nature moves us to be generous; Satan tempts us to be envious.
To envy means to desire the blessings of another rather than to be content with ones own; to covet what someone else has (or is) and its very presence grows feelings of ill will toward others.
Envy is about wanting to get something: possessions, position, power, prestige, praise. Generosity on the other hand is about the willingness to give something: money, possessions, praise, encouragement,respect.
Envy in kids looks like:
- “That’s not fair” or “Why did she get to go first” or “Why does he get to go to a party?”
- Unhappiness over the success of others.
- Attention seeking: desiring praise and notice and honor from others.
- Unwillingness to give praise, compliments, attention or honor to others.
Generosity is about being big hearted, open handed, and charitable like Natasha; it’s being concerned for the welfare of others and desiring to make others feel valued and important. Generous individuals operate out of a “sound heart” – they are fun to be around; they make you feel valued.
Today’s parents are often guilty of giving their kids everything they want.
In fact they feel unloving when they don’t consent to their children’s demands. What these parents fail to realize is that generosity does not grow out of abundance; rather it grows out of a content heart that is not focused on getting what one wants. (Do you notice that the more your kids get, the more they want?) You will go a long way in teaching generosity to your kids if you teach them to minimize their wants. They must first learn to be content with what they have for generosity to have room to grow in their hearts.
Ten TIPS for Encouraging Generosity:
- Each year have your kids go through their closets and bag up the things that are too small or unused. Then allow them to contribute their donations to a drop off center or charity.
- Expect your children to set aside a percentage of their allowance or earnings to give to church or to a charity that is meaningful to them.
- Ask your kids to wrap presents and make cards for kids in local hospitals. (Kids get sick year round and not just at holiday time)
- Expect your kids to call elderly extended family members just to greet them and ask about what’s going on in their lives. They love to be remembered.
- Expect your kids to send out thank you cards for the gifts they receive. (Refrain from letting them even use the gift until they have!)
- Converse regularly about how they can give of themselves each day.
- Show them that you give as well. Talk about helping others and why you choose to give of your time and treasures. Model generosity in your words by complimenting and showing respect to others. We model attitudes and mindsets to our children.
- Talk about the needs of others rather than just what your child wants. Make generosity a part of what defines your family.
- Before Christmas and birthdays, ask your kids what toys they can give away to make room for new gifts.
- Ask your kids at the close of each day what they are grateful for and how they chose to be generous that day.
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