Christmas and Stewardship

A quick blog article to help you spend less and focus on Jesus this Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful time of year and it’s only a week away. During this busy season of parties, shopping and eating, it’s easy to throw the budget out of the window. If you are like me at all, once you have made one mistake, then it’s the start of a multiple bad decisions. This especially applies to my eating. For example, I could really be closely watching what I eat, since my pant’s waist is getting pretty tight. However, during the Holidays, I’m surrounded by rich food wherever I go, it seems. So, just this once I’ll toss a goodie in my mouth. “Oh well, why not another one, the first one didn’t hurt, another one can’t matter that much,” and then on it goes, into a steady stream of sweets and rich food, that I don’t refuse myself to eat.

The same thing happens to me when I spend during the Holidays. More gifts, more eating out, I struggle with appearing generous or cheap. If I overspend a little here and there, then the floodgates open wider, and before you know it, I’ve totally blown my budget. What I do to avoid this is to discuss with my wife a budget amount we can afford for gifts, entertaining, fast food in-between busy activities, and any extras we want to gift ourself. We then purchase online to avoid impulse purchases, or go to the store with our lists, and buy only what is on them.

A scripture comes to mind that can give us strength to not over eat or over spend:

You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:2-3

A friend of mine in her 70’s who has been serving Christ her whole life in signficant ways, reminded me of this verse. She said it was taught to her by her parent missionary organization early on, to help them manage a modest income. She said the verses’ key points were that our purchases can sometimes be categorized:  our desires to possess, indulge and impress. Modern western society celebrates these things, but God wants us to “live by faith, not by sight.” (Corinthians 5:7). Stewardship is a life based on Jesus, not many of the things we fill life with.

The Holidays can be enjoyed in the richness he blesses us, and giving him rich gratitude of that. Celebrating Jesus’ joy and hope, the wonderful people he has brought into your life, during this time of the extra abundance of his presence, is God’s plan. The verse from James mentioned we quarrel and fight, easy to do at family gatherings, but this year give the gift of joy and hope, faith and forgiveness to those surrounding you. Be generous in your giving of material gifts, celebrate with great food and parties, but stay within your boundaries. Spread the love he places in your heart, unconditionally to those around you, to friends, family, lonely, the poor and immigrant. Get strength from Jesus to resist the desires to possess, indulge and impress, but to bless instead.

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