“Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.” – James Frick
With Christmas just a day away, let’s take a step back and ponder how Jesus would want us to celebrate Christmas. Imagine the idyllic scene: frost ices the windows, stockings are hanging proudly above the cozy fire, Junior is opening his 26th gift as Mom and Dad look on, sipping frothy cups of hot chocolate. Now picture a little girl in Brazil, sitting indian style in a broken down shack, her feet caked with dirt, clutching a toothbrush, crying and praising God for the best Christmas gift of her life.
Which one of these scenes do you think would urge Jesus to say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant”? Which one more aptly honors the hope brought with Jesus’ birth?
Now, celebrating Christmas and remembering Christ’s birth is a fantastic time of togetherness, and one I relish every year, but let’s consider the following facts as we head to the stores to buy all the stuff our loved ones “need” this Christmas season.
The dollar amount needed to provide basic education, sanitation, health and nutrition for every developing impoverished country in the world, about $28 billion, is the amount Americans spend each year on ice cream. We spend $250 billion a year on Christmas gifts, contrasted with an embarrassing $39 million on missions. Even in the midst of the financial crisis, experts estimate that people will spend around $646 each on Christmas gifts this year and a total of $525 billion over the holiday season ($6 billion on Christmas décor alone). Half the world, more than three billion people, live on less than $2.50 a day. It’s easy to feel poor when you see your neighbor or the people you read about have even more, but we have to remember that OUR world is not THE world.
This is not one of those “give until it hurts”, lock-all-the-doors-and-pass-the-plate-because-the-pastor-needs-some-alligator-shoes type of plea. This is more like “give until it feels good”. God already owns everything, so He doesn’t need anything we have, but He wants to fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in Him (Romans 15:13). He knows that the socks, golf balls, televisions, can openers, sweaters, ipods, luggage sets, Barbies, action figures, PlayStation 3s and every other inanity we buy each other year after year are never going to satisfy.
As Christians, we must take the words of Jesus seriously and He spoke an awful lot about money and possessions. 2350 verses, in fact. If you have a red letter edition Bible and you don’t want to hear Jesus’ words on the subject, go ahead and rip out one-third of those red words. So, when Jesus tells us over and over again that providing a toothbrush for a girl in Brazil is going to make us happier than anything you’ll find in Wal-Mart, Home Depot or the Mercedes dealership, we should take His word for it.
It’s not too late! Even if your gifts are already under the tree, make Jesus the cornerstone of your Christmas, not an afterthought in the midst of the materialism.
Merry CHRISTmas from Account417!