What do you tell your children about the reason there are gifts at Christmas? Do you tell them it is because the wise men brought gifts to Jesus? Do you say it is a way to show love to one another? Don’t stop there. You can use Christmas as a great opportunity to clearly and tangibly demonstrate the message of salvation to your children.
Leading up to Christmas Day
There are things you can do throughout the year that will help you maximize the impact of this devotional on Christmas morning. First, limit the number and frequency of gifts you give them during the rest of the year. Commit to buying your children what they need. If you decide to buy them what they want, have them work to earn it in some fashion. They can do chores or use their allowance to pay for all or part of the item. Children who frequently get what they want without having to expend some resource to get it have a hard time understanding the value of a gift. If you consistently maintain this standard throughout the year, when Christmas comes along you will have a stage that is ripe for the presentation of the gospel.
On Christmas Morning
- Allow your children to open a few gifts first, then tell them you are going to take a few minutes to reflect on the meaning of gifts.
- Start by asking them a few questions such as: What is the definition of a gift? Why do we give gifts? What do you like best about getting gifts? If you buy something with your own money, is it a gift for you? Do people have to work to earn gifts?
- After some discussion, explain to your children that all the presents under the tree are free gifts. They don’t have to earn them or be good to get them – they are free.
- Now bridge the illustration to the gospel. Hold a gift in your hand that has not been opened yet. Explain that, like this gift, Jesus is a free gift sent to us from God. We could never be good enough or do enough to earn that Gift. In fact, it is because we do wrong things that God sent Jesus. It was a gift that we desperately needed.
- Next, ask a few more questions such as: Where did all these gifts come from (if your children believe all gifts are from Santa, this illustration will break down here)? Who paid for them? They are free to you, but were the gifts actually free?
- Now bridge the illustration to the gospel again. Tell your children that even though the gifts under the tree are free for them, someone had to work hard to earn the money to buy them. Likewise, God had to “pay” for our gift when He sent Jesus to earth. It cost God a great deal. He was no longer able to enjoy the constant fellowship of His Son. In addition, God knew what He was sending His Son here to do – to die on a cross. That little “gift” in the manger was given to us at a great cost to God.
- Finally, have one of your children put a bow on baby Jesus in your nativity set as a reminder of the greatest gift of all.
- For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8
- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
- For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
- Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17