Don't allow gift-giving expectations to put you deeper in debt and rob you of the true joy of the season
by Amie Streater
I know what you're thinking: Here they come. Christmas and New Year's; gifts to buy, meals to prepare, decorating, houseguests, parties to attend, church activities, neighborhood events, school productions—and a partridge in a pear tree.
It's exhausting, isn't it? Add the fact that the last few years have been financially disappointing for most of us, and it's no wonder we get a heavy feeling in the pit of our stomachs when the calendar page flips over to November.
Life is about to get a lot more expensive, as if it hasn't been bad enough this year already. As Christians, we tend to feel guilty just thinking about the price tag that comes along with the Thanksgiving and Christmas season.
After all, this is a time to be focused on gratitude for all God has blessed us with, especially the fact that He sent His Son so that we might be saved. It's just not very spiritual to think about money during this blessed time.
Actually, I think it is.
During the time of year when we celebrate the ultimate gift we have in Christ, I think it's healthy to explore why we feel like we're in bondage in so many other areas, such as our finances. It's OK to acknowledge that things don't look the way we would like them to. It's productive to take time to sit back and ask, "Why does my money—and my life—look and feel so yucky right now?"
You could plaster a plastic smile on your face and plow through the holiday season, and likely no one would be the wiser. But where, exactly, would that get you?
Mark 8:36 says, "For what will it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" What will you gain by having another plastic Christmas? How will that feed your spirit and connect you more deeply to God?
What will you really accomplish if you forge ahead with credit cards in hand, charging your way to what you hope will be a picture-perfect holiday season, yet on Jan. 2 face bills you can't pay and more levels of uncharted waters in your soul?
What if, instead of choosing to live out that candy-coated lie of the "perfect holiday season," you chose to lay hold of the abundant life Jesus told us He came to give us?
You can do just that if you will spend some time this season pressing in with God and asking the questions that, when answered, could really help heal your heart, and your finances.
As believers in Christ, most of the struggles we have are based on "counterfeit convictions," misconceptions about what the Bible says and what God's will for our lives really looks like. The tricky thing about counterfeit convictions is that they usually stem from some kind of truth. In most cases, a biblical truth gets polluted in our minds by lies we hear in the world or lies we choose to believe about ourselves, or both.
God promised us in Jer. 29:11 that He has amazing plans for each of our lives, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future. So when our lives don't line up with that promise, our human tendency is to ask God why.
It's a good question to ask, but it is coming from the wrong perspective. Instead of asking God why His promises don't seem to be true in our lives, we should be asking God what we're doing to keep those promises from coming to fruition, what counterfeit convictions we're living by that are holding them back. read more