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CEE's Family Building Blocks
November/December 1997

"What's Your Motivation?"

During the holiday season, we must especially examine our motives, and teach our children to examine theirs. First Chronicles 29:17 says that God tests our hearts and is pleased with integrity, with honest and willing giving. Surely, gift giving brings out the best or worst in all of us!

We can take this Christmas opportunity to instill in our children an important lesson about motivation, which will carry over into every area of their life.

Examples of suspicious motivation might include: "Are you giving those Legos to Mom because she really likes to play with them or because you would like to help her play with them?" "Are you choosing that shirt for Dad because he likes that style or because you want him to wear the style you like so he'll look more hip?"

A habit of insincere motivation as a youth can lead to improper intent and even easy justification of unrighteousness as an adult. For example, "If I work these long hours, I can tithe more, so God won't mind that I'm putting my job over my family," or "If I take cookies to the pastor, he'll know what a nice, giving person I am."

Deut. 10:12 says: "And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul." We are to give and serve with ALL our heart--with a sincere motivation out of love for God.

Just as parents want their children to obey willingly, out of respect and love, Deut. 26:16 tells us to follow God's laws; to carefully obey them unreservedly.

How can you train your child to obey God with right motivation and a sincere heart?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Pray Ps. 119:36 together each morning: "Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain."
  • Teach your child the importance of tithing from his/her allowance. Deut. 15:10: "Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.
  • Read Matt. 6:1-18 together as a family and examine your motives. Verses 3 and 4 talk of giving to the needy in secret. Perhaps this Christmas you can anonymously send a "secret angel" gift to someone you know in need. Practice giving when no one knows rather than to receive thanks or favor.

"The Best Gifts to Give In Any Season"

As we move into the Christmas season, let us remember that the very best gifts are not "presents"--they are gifts of ourselves, treasures from one heart to another. They don't require a holiday (in fact, they are most appreciated when given for no reason at all). Just as God gave us His Son, and the Son gave us His life, that we might live, on a much smaller scale we can bestow upon those around us the greatest gift of all--LOVE!

  • When your spouse comes home, rush to the door with hugs and kisses and a hearty welcome.
  • Plan special dates for your spouse or a child--centered around whatever he or she likes best.
  • Don't allow your children to treat your spouse disrespectfully.
  • LISTEN--attentively. Focus on understanding the other, not on being understood.
  • When you have a happy memory or nice thought about someone, tell them, by phone or in a note.
  • Commit to praying daily for your loved ones' spiritual protection and encouragement.
  • Do a chore that's not usually yours.
  • Write a love letter or poem.
  • Write down 100 reasons why you love the person on slips of paper. Put them in a jar for daily reading.
  • Make a picture collage of special family memories for your honey's desk area.
  • Give your spouse a night off.
  • Share a little wink or hand squeeze.

Other topics featured:
  • Helping Your Child Life a Godly Life
  • Research on the Importance of Families
  • Solving Bedtime Problems
  • Recipe for "Broccoli Bake"
  • Focus on Marriage: "How Vulnerable Are You?"
  • Keeping a Clean Slate
  • Homemade Gifts They'll Really Use
  • Building a Legacy Through Memories
  • Family Night Lesson: Thankfulness
  • Turning the Negative Into Positive

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