“The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good.” Proverbs 15:3
“The Elf on the Shelf” has become a popular activity in many homes at Christmas time. Children giggle and hide when they see the elf, thinking that what the elf sees will affect what they get for Christmas. Many parents get enthusiastically involved and actually like the fact that it may make children be better behaved.
As Christian parents, have we neglected to teach our children that Jesus sees everything they do all year long? It is easy to get wrapped up in the cultural activities and forget the Spiritual aspects. What a difference it would make in the behavior of children if they really believed that Jesus sees all they do all the time!
An elf on the shelf is a visual tool that can be used to lead children to the understanding of the ever-watching Lord. It can be used as a springboard to discuss with children that Jesus truly does see them all the time. As they become engrossed in the game, parents can introduce conversation about our Lord. They can say something like, “You know, the elf is a pretend toy, but Jesus is real, and He really does see everything you do, not just at Christmas but all year long.”
Christian parents are truly challenged during the holiday season to keep the focus on the reason for the season. It would seem that the busier we get, the easier it is to forget the more important aspects of this time of year. After all, it is the birthday of Jesus, shouldn’t the emphasis be on Him? Yet, many put Him aside as they scurry about seeking material things that can be so easily lost in hurricanes, fires, or other ways. We don’t want to rob children of all fun or they may grow up feeling that they were deprived and being a Christian is no fun. It is best to define clearly the things that are fantasy and simply pretend with them. It is never good to lie to children. When we lie to them, even in jest, why should they believe us when we are telling them the truth?
Children should understand that there is no way to hide from God. When my husband and I worked with children who rode the bus to church, I would say to them, “If you hide under the table, can God see you?” They would shout “yes”, as I continued to ask questions about ways they could try to hide from God. At their early age, children need to understand that we can’t do wrong without negative consequences. Good things produce good. Bad things produce bad. Children who truly understand this truth are more likely to be better behaved even when away from parents.
Let’s not make an imaginary elf more important to children than Jesus. Let’s put effort into teaching something real that affects their eternity instead of working hard to teach them something that isn’t real and lasts for only a short time. ν