As we are rushing in and out of stores in the midst of our energetic shopping frenzy the last week before Christmas, I would like to invite you to take time off and to consider what you buy and why. During the last 17 years which I have spent living in America, I have witnessed an ever increasing spirit of consumerism in many Christians, young and old alike. We like stuff. We like to receive it, we like to give it, we like to look at it, we like talk about it, we even give it to our pets. The statistics say that even 7 out 10 dogs receive Christmas presents. (I’m sure there are many orphans in third world countries who desperately wish they could take the place of our pets in America and for many of these needy kids, we ought to give stuff). Below are 7 rules to help you live a life that is about Christ this Christmas season.
1. Remember life is not about “stuff”
2. Remember Christmas is more than presents
Sadly many Christians can say with their mouth what Christmas is about yet in their mind materialism and presents are on the same level as the birth of Jesus. Contemplate the greatest gift we have received, Jesus Himself… don’t try to outdo or obscure His gift with your trinkets. Instead let your gifts inspire and point people to Jesus.
3. The most expensive present is not the best present.
Money is not the most valuable commodity in our world, love is. When buying gifts, don’t merely trow down the cash on what is most expensive. Spend time and careful consideration whether this is something that will make the recipient feel and understand that you care about them. If you know me you know I will not be as excited about a $400 kitchen tool set as I will be about a $20 theology book.
4. Dont buy wasteful gifts
Often we may have a rule about the amount of money we will spend on every single person. As the days draw nearer and one persons gift is $10 less than others, we may be tempted to spend the remaining amount at anything as long as we spend that money. Don’t do this, ask yourself first is this needed/helpful/useful to this person? If its not, don’t buy it. Period. There are better uses of your God-given finances.
5. Take people off your gift list
You don’t have to get everyone you know a gift. There is no rule that says you must spend $30 dollars on your third cousin from Alaska with whom you never talk. If they already have lots of stuff, send them a card, your love, prayers, and wish them well.
6. Add people to your gift list
Now that you have cut off Billy-Joe from Alabama, take time to think about adding someone to your Christmas list. Starving kids in Africa who need only $10 for clear water? That kid in your church who’s parents just got laid off? A lunch for that homeless guy on the corner with a sign? Your church fund? Your pastor? The possibilities are limitless, find someone that could really use the encouragement. A good charity to help kids without clean water is:http://www.water.cc/
7. Spend less money, more time
Yea giving someone a $50 bill may seem impressive, but it may rob them of a greater gift, you. (Yes, I know you are’nt that great, but most of you are still better than a piece of paper.) In our fascination with consumerism we often forger the greatest gift we can give is our time. Our effort. Our care. Our affection. Our love. So this Christmas, spend less money and instead spend time with your family and friends. Remember, Jesus came to this earth not to give us toys, but so He could spend eternity with us.