Hello, everyone. Welcome back to He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund and Heidi Howerton.
Heidi: Heidi Howerton. Hi, it’s good to be with you today.
Jani: Heidi and I are both smiling even though we’re seated seven feet apart from each other.
Heidi: I’m smiling because I just ate gummy bears out of Jani’s pantry.
Jani: We had to bribe some children, didn’t we? With candy.
Heidi: We did that’s what I love. I always say, “If the Ortlunds bribe for good behavior, it must be okay to bribe.”
Jani: Well, it worked with our four and with our grandchildren as well. So hopefully it’s not a sin.
Sharing the 8th Commandment with your Children
Today we’re going to come back to the eighth commandment. Our final podcast on this commandment “You shall not steal,” I hope you’re thinking through these commandments with your children. And Heidi and I want to give you some ways that you can share this commandment, you can give it to your kids.
If you were to ask any mother of a preschooler, you would hear her affirm that children possess a very keen sense of ownership. Isn’t that true? One of the first words each of our children learned was “mine”. “That’s mine.” How we need to give this commandment to our children, the eighth commandment which says, “You shall not steal.”
Now, for you to do this, you’ll only need a few materials. If you’ve been following along you have a big red heart probably made out of pegboard. And you’ll need a marker to write the commandment on the heart. I would encourage you to review the other seven commandments first. Read through them, and then write the eighth commandment on your heart. I suggest that you memorize these four words, but also add other scriptures as you discuss this commandment with your kids. We ended our last podcast with these amazing words from 2 Corinthians 9:6-11.
“The point is this, whoever so sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. You will be enriched in every way for all of your generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.”2 Corinthians 9:6-11
1. Let’s Define our terms
Jani: Now that’s a long passage for little ones, especially preschoolers to listen to. But I would encourage you to begin your study of this command by talking through these verses from 2 Corinthians 9. Define terms like “sow”, s-o-w, and “reap”. Words like “sparingly” and “bountifully”. “Reluctantly” or “cheerfully”. Define “generosity”. Try to use them throughout the week with your kids. Encourage your child whenever you see him responding cheerfully and not under compulsion and say, “Oh, you’re obeying the eighth commandment.” Remind him that even in this way, he’s obeying that commandment that you’re working on during your Bible time.
2. Let’s Discuss Possessions
Another way that you can teach this commandment is to talk with your child about possessions. We found it interesting to ask our kids to imagine that we were together in our house, we realized was suddenly filling with smoke, and we needed to race outside, but you had time to grab three things as you ran out to safety. What would they be? What really matters in life? That’s what you want your kids to think about. You know, would it be that new Lego set? Or would it be their little brother, you know, you just don’t know. But you want to teach your kids about possessions, what’s really important in life.
3. “What IS Stealing?”
Here’s a third way you can work this commandment into your child’s life. Talk about what stealing is. Make sure your child knows what it means to steal something. Talk about why people steal. Why is it a sin not only against the person you steal from but also against God? Think together about God’s providence in your family life. You see, when you steal something, it’s a sin against God because you’re saying to God, you’re not providing me with what I think I should have, what I want. Does your child see everything is coming from God? Or does he think you just drive by the bank window whenever you need more money? That’s what my four year old once told me to do when we were low on funds.
Heidi: Just drive by the bank window, Mom. Get out some more.
Jani: That’s right. Well, I’ve wonder about this question. Have you ever been involved in stealing? I know I have been and I was able to share with my own children or sometimes my grandchildren different times when I’ve struggled with it or have actually stolen. Or maybe you have been violated by someone stealing from you. It would be very helpful for you to talk about this with your kids.
The Beauty of Hard Work
This commandment is also a great springboard for talking about diligence in work. Are you teaching your kids the beauty of hard work, both by example and requirement? You might be saying, “Jani, I don’t find hard work so beautiful. It’s really hard.” But there is a deep beauty to someone working hard. What is your family’s work ethic? Do you require your children to help bear the responsibilities of maintaining your home?
Heidi: That’s a question, Jani, that Mike and I talk about all the time because Mike growing up on a farm he learned such a great work ethic his parents required him not only to do chores around the house, but he had to at five years old he had to wean piggies from the pig stalls becuase they were pig farmers. So we’re always trying to teach our kids to work hard from making their bed everyday in the morning to brushing their teeth. Now that they’re a little older, they help me unload the dishes. We say, “Okay, we got to get all of our chores done before we start school for the day.” And it’s not something that I always do perfectly, but it’s something we’re trying to teach them that work is good.
Also, that work comes with many rewards. I don’t know if we’ve told you guys this story but one year, my husband who loves farming, we filled our whole 3/4 of an acre with spinach. And so Mike grew the spinach and the kids helped him plant the seeds. And we told the kids, “If we harvest spinach and sell it to the juice bar every week for two months, we’ll have enough money to go to Disney World.” And so Jani, I mean, every day the kids were out there with their little plastic knives, cutting spinach and washing it and we raised enough money to go to Disney World. So we want to teach them that too. That hard work comes with really good rewards.
Jani: Yes. That’s so good, Heidi. It is a biblical principle. The Lord encourages us to work heartily for him knowing that our labor is not in vain, that God sees it.
Heidi: Yes and the fruit that it produces, I hope to teach it to them at this little age so when they get older, you know, my sons or daughter will be able to provide for their families as God sees fit with a joyful heart.
Jani: Yes, yes. That’s so good, Heidi. Oh my goodness, because even little children can help with simple chores.
The “me, Us, You” Principle
I encourage young moms to make sure to use the “me, us, you” principle, the “me, us, you” principle. First it’s, “Watch me do this. This is how mommy does it. This is how it’s done.” Then secondly, it’s “Let’s do this together.” And we do it together several times. Finally, it’s “Now you get to do it.”
I think most of us neglect the second step. The “us” part of this principle, which really should bear the biggest emphasis in any teaching, and to which we should return even when the child can do a chore by himself. What child doesn’t appreciate a parent saying, “Hey, could I help you with the dishes tonight? I’d love to spend a little extra time with you.” And when we do get to step three, the “now you’re ready to take this on by yourself” part, let’s not forget, as Heidi reminded us to reward and cheer them on. Our children ought to learn from an early age that hard work brings pleasure and reward.
Heidi: That reminds me of this story, Jani. The other night I had put the kids to bed, Mike was at a work event that he had to go to so I was by myself. And sweet little Hannah comes tiptoeing down the stairs. And she said, “Oh, Mom, can you check to see if I have a tick” because we live on a farm and we do that and so I did. And I said, “Oh, you’re good.” And she goes, “What are you doing mommy?” And I said, “I’m just straightening up the house so we can start tomorrow.” And she said, “Can I spend time with you. Can I help you clean?” And I said, “Sure.”, but what gets even better is as we’re cleaning, she goes, “Mommy, I love this time. It’s like special mommy and Hannah time. Can I do this with you once a week?” And I thought, oh, I didn’t even know that doing chores and just spending that time together, even if we’re working can mean as much to a child as one on one time doing something else. I learned something in that.
Jani: Yes, that’s a beautiful story. Oh, we all love your Hannah. She’s a special gift to this world. But I love that. We do forget that, Heidi. It’s so true. And so we want to be parents who give our kids little jobs to do and encourage them and it’s a biblical principle. Remember, we read this last time we were together from Colossians 3:23-24. You should read this with your children. It says this,
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.”Colossians 3:23-24
Everything we do, whatever we do, whether it’s unloading the dishwasher, whether it’s recording a podcast, whether it’s mopping a floor or writing out a grocery list. Whether it’s having our quiet time, whatever we do, do it heartily as for the Lord, and we will receive the inheritance is our reward. God is a rewarder. Oh, I love that. I would encourage you, mom, to choose one area that you can work on together that needs a more hearty approach. And just ask the Lord to help you with your children this week as you try to live out the eighth commandment.
Another way you can teach this commandment is to read and discuss 2 Corinthians 8:9.
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you, by his poverty, might become rich.”2 Corinthians 8:9
Becoming Poor for Others
Jani: Share these verses that we’ve talked about in previous podcasts with your children. Read and discuss this verse, 2 Corinthians 8:9. Talk with them about Jesus’s willingness to become poor for us. I wonder is there someone you know as a family, for whom you could become a little poorer, so to speak, so that they might become rich for Jesus’s sake. Bring in God’s love for cheerful giving, from 2 Corinthians 9:7 where the Lord tells us how God loves a cheerful giver. I hope you’re catching the vision for living out this commandment before your kids and for the world at large.
Leaving a Little Extra
Another idea that you can do with your children is read together Deuteronomy 24:19-22 and talk about the principle of gleaning. Do you know what gleaning is? It’s a plan to leave a little something extra for someone. Make a plan this week, to leave a little something extra for someone in your life. Maybe a shut-in, or a neighbor, a teacher, a family member, a personal assistant, a caregiver, a tradesman. Give your children the opportunity to experience the joy, of not living to every limit of time and energy and money, but of having enough to share with those in need of encouragement. Make generosity your word for the day or your word for this week. Be generous yourself. Let your kids see your generosity. Maybe it’s with the amount of Skittles you give them for being good after being quiet during this podcast, Heidi.
Recognize your child’s own generosity. You may want to give your child the chance to earn some extra money, and then pray about who might need it. Let him see that working and sharing and pleasure all go together. It’s our privilege to teach our children the love of their generous Heavenly Father through this commandment. As we teach our children diligence and generosity, let’s talk a lot about heaven. Let them see that while we aren’t working for heaven, we are striving toward heaven. Our labor in the Lord is never in vain. We serve the God who remembers.
“For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints as you still do.”Hebrews 6:10
Jani: Don’t you love that? He’s not so unjust so as to overlook your work. He remembers he sees someday he’s going to reward you. Why not give your child tiny foretastes of heaven here on Earth as you recognize and remember his work and provide sweet, unexpected surprises for a job well done. As you live out, and give to your children, “you shall not steal,” they will come to understand that this commandment is much more than a prohibition. It’s an invitation into the very heart of our abundantly generous God. May He restore your soul as you live out this commandment.