I’m guessing the title of this blog got your attention- good.
Most people, mainly Americans, can’t imagine a Christmas without exchanging gifts. Does the idea of a present-free Christmas bother you? Do you see Christmas as a time meant for gift-exchanging? If you said Yes to any of those questions then you’re meant to read on.
Sadly, every year many people see Christmas, birthdays, Valentine’s Day and other holidays approaching and their shoulders tighten. They remember last year’s task of figuring out what to buy everyone, long check out lines, the nervousness of hoping they chose the right gift, and so on and so on. Even before the biggest holiday of the year, Christmas, is actually here they’re already weighed down by unnecessary stress. It’s really a shame.
I’ve heard on the news many times, “….burgular has stolen Christmas from another family”. Stolen Christmas? As a Christian, I have a problem with that phrase. Christmas is not something that can be stolen. It’s the celebration of Christ’s birth. Can you take that from anyone? Of course not. That’s the problem with the zombie-like, “must buy presents” mentality. We’re slaves to materialism! How about we take the words of Christ to heart? Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need”.
Two things are important here. First, seek His Kingdom above all else. We need to ask ourselves,… Are we focused on His Kingdom more than any other aspect of life; or do we allow presents, candy canes, heart-shaped boxes of candy and celebratory cakes, to occupy the first-place position in our heart?”
Second, notice the verse ends with “…and he will give you everything you need”. Christ didn’t say He’d supply a PS4, a new sports car or a Hawaiian vacation as a result of our dedication to put Him and His Kingdom first. God is telling us here that our needs are a higher priority to Him than our wants. Obviously, we should mirror His perspective- God first, needs second and then wants. And the wants are a ‘maybe’. Picture a world where this was reality. Instead of long lines at retail stores we’d see those lines at the soup kitchens, waiting to help the needy. People would camp out in front of their Church waiting for Christmas service, not in front of Macey’s eager to get their hands on the latest name-brand purses. Families would not continue sinking deeper into credit card debt. They’d pay cash to buy a homeless family an entire wardrobe instead. Man, I’d love to see this kind of economic focus in our country. Wouldn’t you? I would love to see a world where Christmas and Valentine’s Day aren’t a source of stress but tranquility, unselfish acts, and the celebration of Christ’s provision.
The decision to go without buying presents at Christmas can affect your bottom line greatly. Think of what you spent during Christmas of 2015 on gadgets, gifts, toys, clothes, wrapping paper, ribbons, fuel, time, etc. Add to that the total cost of Valentine’s, all the birthdays and one anniversary of last year. Wanna know what my personal total is for 2015? $100.00 for 4 people. An average of twenty five dollars per person isn’t bad right? Mmm maybe…. Let’s add our total to our current bank account balance. Wouldn’t you rather have that new total in your account right now in case something major rears its ugly head? Or wouldn’t you prefer to put it towards paying off a credit card, paying on a loan or paying extra on your mortgage? That would be a Frugal Lifestyle decision that helps reduce stress and could eventually lead to financial freedom. A No-Presents Christmas, or other holiday, also sets an example to the following generation. They’d understnad that God being born as a human baby is the resaon for Christmas. They’d learn to focus on the Ultimate Gift they’ve already been given, not the material stuff many have learned expect. As far as Valentine’s Day is concerned children would learn that time spent with a loved one is far more valuable than any material gift.
The question is: Are you ready to be that example?
Remember- If we can buy it, it will eventually fade but memories formed while enjoying each other’s company will last a lifetime. No presents on birthdays is also a great way to weed out those “what did you bring me?” people. You know, the ones that are only interested in what they can squeeze out of you? We all have them in our lives. But, telling everyone that there will be zero birthday presents next year will also expose the cream of the crop. Those who actually care about you will say things like, “Spending time with you is gift enough”. Those are the ones you hang onto! As 2017 approaches let’s start imagining a stress free, laid-back, relaxing, Christ-centered year where we concentrate less on exchanging gifts and more on appreciating THE GIFT of a relationship with Christ.
It’s no coincidence that the Wisdom of the Bible also supports a frugal lifestyle which helps lead to financial freedom.