We parents at Christmas may receive many types of gifts from our children. When the kids are young, it might be a handmade treasure from school crafted with popsicle sticks or pipe cleaners and shimmering with glitter. As they get older and perhaps earn some spending money of their own, they may purchase some perfume or aftershave from the dollar store. Teenagers may order something practical or heartfelt from the Internet such as clothing or a personalized picture collage. I have been the recipient of all of these in the past. However, the greatest Christmas gift my children ever got me didn’t cost a dime. It only cost some of their time.
It was the gift of memorized scripture.
About four years ago, all three of my children asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I honestly couldn’t think of a single thing I needed. But I did have a desire deep in my soul. It was the longing for my children to cultivate the habit of tucking away Scripture in their hearts that they could then recall later in life when they needed encouragement, strength, or power to overcome temptation. And so, that holiday season, I asked if they would spend some time memorizing scripture and then recite to me on Christmas morning.
One teenage child, who was struggling with temptation, memorized First Corinthians 10:13 that says:
No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide a way out so that you may be able to bear it. (CSB)
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I wept as he recited the verse out loud to me as we all sat around the twinkling Christmas tree. Because this son has a learning disability and memorization comes hard for him, it was even more precious to me.
My daughter, a young adult, memorized an entire chapter of the Bible. She chose Colossians 3 which talks about putting off our old nature and clothing ourselves with the spirit of Christ. It touched my heart that she took so much time to memorize this larger chunk of Scripture.
My youngest, who is often one who flies by the seat of his pants, waited until just the day before Christmas. Still, he memorized about five verses from the book of Proverbs, chapter 31. Since the ministry I write and speak for is based on this chapter, he decided he would see what it said for himself. When I heard him utter these words, again tears welled up in my eyes:
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also praises her: “Many women have done noble deeds, but you surpass them all!” Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised. (CSB)
Hands-down, this has been my favorite Christmas gift of all time. If you would love to try this idea with your own children this year, here are some age-appropriate Scripture verses they could memorize to recite to you as parents on Christmas morning.
You may even want to surprise your spouse by doing this secretly and then having your child recited to them as their gift that morning. Older children can help younger children with memorization. You can even have your children record themselves reciting the verses out loud and then they can play it back as they practice on their own.
I pray that your heart too will be touched by this simple gift of memorized scripture and that the verses will find their way deep into your children’s hearts.
Age-appropriate scripture to memorize
For children under five years old:
Ephesians 6:1: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
Psalm 119: 167: I have obeyed your laws, for I love them very much.
Psalm 116:1: I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.
Psalm 118:7: The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies.
For children five to ten years old :
Psalm 147:11: The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.
Psalm 119:11: I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Proverbs 2:7: He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless.
Psalm 133:1: How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! (Especially helpful if you have boys that tend to spat!)
For children ten to fourteen years old:
Psalm 119:34: Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart.
Psalm 86:11: Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
Colossians 3:23: Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people,
Mark 12:30: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
For children fifteen years and older:
1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide a way out so that you may be able to bear it.
Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Colossians 3:1-10: Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Now read this: Three things I want my children to hear from me
This post originally appeared on For the Family and was republished with permission.
Karen Ehman is a New York Times bestselling author, a Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker, and a writer for Encouragement for Today, an online devotional that reaches over four million women daily. Married to her college sweetheart, Todd, and the mother of three, she lives with her family in Michigan.