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Birthdays and Holidays

"Parents have not taught their children the precepts of the law as God has commanded them. They have educated them in selfish habits. They have taught them to regard their birthdays and holidays as occasions when they expect to receive gifts, and to follow the habits and customs of the world. These occasions, which should serve to increase the knowledge of God and to awaken thankfulness of heart for his mercy and love in preserving their lives for another year, are turned into occasions for self-pleasing, for the gratification and glorification of the children. They have been kept by the power of God through every moment of their life, and yet parents do not teach their children to think of this, and to express thanksgiving for his mercy toward them. If children and youth had been properly instructed in this age of the world, what honor, what praise and thanksgiving, would flow from their lips to God! What a revenue of small gifts would be brought from the hands of the little ones to be put into his treasury as thank-offerings! God would be remembered instead of forgotten.

"Not only on birthdays should parents and children remember the mercies of the Lord in a special way, but Christmas and New Year's should also be seasons when every household should remember their Creator and Redeemer. Instead of bestowing gifts and offerings in such abundance on human objects, reverence, honor, and gratitude should be rendered to God, and gifts and offerings should be caused to flow in the divine channel. Would not the Lord be pleased with such a remembrance of him? O how God has been forgotten on these occasions. At the very time when his loving-kindness should be remembered, his mercy has been ignored. The lesson of the ungrateful lepers should not be in vain to us. "Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?" Shall only one in ten who are receiving the rich benefits of the Lord, return to bow at his feet and to give praise for his mercies? Shall presents be purchased, and money be expended for unnecessary things, and no wisdom be manifested in the outlay of God's intrusted means? Will parents come out from the world and be separate from its customs? Let them obey the injunction of God, and put forth judicious labor properly to train and educate the young in true knowledge and wisdom. Those men were called wise men who came from the far East to Jerusalem, led by a star in the heavens, to offer gifts of frankincense, myrrh, and gold to the infant Saviour. "Lo, the star, which they saw in the East, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother." Although Christ was the Majesty of heaven, he was born in poverty, and his cradle was a manger. But when the wise men "had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh" (RH, November 13, 1894 par. 5, 6).

"Parents, as the birthdays of your children come around year after year, what kind of an education are you giving your little ones? Have you endeavored to turn their thoughts to God? Have you trained them to look upon God as their heavenly Father from whom comes down every good and perfect gift? Have you informed them that the angels have been ministering unto them all through the years, and that it would be fitting for the little ones to lay up something in store for a thank offering to God? Have you educated them to speak words of thanksgiving and praise, and trained them to send gifts of love flowing back to the bountiful Provider of their food, clothing, reason, life, and above all for the gift of his only begotten Son? Have you trained them that they must love others as God has loved them, and in their sphere deny themselves as Jesus has denied himself in his sphere" (HM, December 1, 1894 par. 10)?

"Under the Jewish economy, on the birth of children an offering was made to God, by his own appointment. Now we see parents taking special pains to present gifts to their children upon their birthdays; they make this an occasion of honoring the child, as though honor were due to the human being. Satan has had his own way in these things; he has diverted the minds and the gifts to human beings; thus the thoughts of the children are turned to themselves, as if they were to be made the objects of special favor. That which should flow back to God in offerings to bless the needy and carry the light of truth to the world, is turned from the right channel, and frequently does more harm than good, encouraging vanity, pride, and self-importance. On birthday occasions the children should be taught that they have reason for gratitude to God for his loving-kindness in preserving their lives for another year. Precious lessons might thus be given. For life, health, food, and clothing, no less than for the hope of eternal life, we are indebted to the Giver of all mercies; and it is due to God to recognize his gifts, and to present our offerings of gratitude to our greatest benefactor. These birthday gifts are recognized of Heaven.

"If Christian parents had accustomed their children to present offerings to God in acknowledgment of his great gift of salvation to men, how different would be the character of the young. Their minds would have been called away from themselves to the blessed Saviour. They would have been taught to feel that he loved them, and that he is the source of all blessing; that he is their hope of happiness and eternal life. If this kind of education had been given to our children, we should today see far less selfishness, far less envy and jealousy; we should have more manly young men and womanly young women. We should see the youth coming up with moral strength, with pure principles, with well-balanced minds and lovely characters, because the Model would be ever before them; they would be impressed with the importance of copying the excellence of Jesus, the pattern. The world will follow its own customs, its maxims and practices; but the children of God will seek to reach the elevated standard of purity and holiness" (RH, December 9, 1890 par. 8, 9).

"Parents, do not neglect to impart to your children the very education they should have. Upon their birthdays, instead of calling their attention to themselves by giving them presents, teach them to come with an offering to God. It is a sad fact that there are many children who have been left to come up willful, disobedient, unthankful, and unholy, yet whose birthdays are respected and honored with feasting and with gifts, when it would have been better had they never been born. Their birthdays might better be observed with fasting, clothing them with sackcloth, instead of making them occasions of amusement and giving gifts; for their steps are rapidly leading to perdition and ruin. In many cases, birthday gifts have proved a detriment rather than a blessing. The children should be educated to look to God as the giver of life, their protector and their preserver, and to come to him with an offering for all his favors. Every opportunity should be employed to implant in their hearts right views of God and his love for us. Nothing should be done to foster in them vanity, self-esteem, or pride. Teach them to review the past year of their life, to consider whether they would be glad to meet its record just as it stands in the books of heaven. Encourage in them serious thoughts, whether their deportment, their words, their works, are of a character pleasing to God. Have they been making their lives more like Jesus, beautiful and lovely in the sight of God? Teach them the knowledge of the Lord, his ways, his precepts. "Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." We want the children to learn to look away from self to heavenly things, there to bestow their thanksgiving" (RH, December 23, 1884 par. 6).