Thanksgiving or Christmas?
It’s the time of year when we begin thinking about how we will spend our money, because it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, I mean Thanksgiving. Well, maybe it really is beginning to look more like Christmas, as least in the retail businesses. It really began to look like Christmas in some business places before October. In the haste of retail to make the sales in their final quarter for the year, they seem to begin to capitalize on the Christmas spending earlier and earlier each year. Maybe they are hoping it’s beginning to look like money, our money, as often during this time of year more so than any other; we tend to spend like no other time.
The real season of Christmas often seems to get lost amid the spending of money on things we normally wouldn’t buy or ”stuff” no one really needs. Poor Thanksgiving seems to get more buried every year, as the focus shifts to the notorious ”Black Friday” sales or for some retailers ”Black Thursday”, as they begin on the day of Thanksgiving; before the turkey can even get cold. Have we lost our priorities for Thanksgiving? Have we lost our priorities for money? Why do so many of us seem to think that the season of Christmas is a license from God to show off our riches of money through the purchasing of ”stuff” and under the guise of gift giving for the birth of our Savior?
Money, itself, clearly will only buy us ”stuff” and not the things we really need. Money will buy us a bed but it will not give us sleep or rest. We can buy books, but we cannot buy brains. The purchase of fine food will not give us an appetite. Designer clothing will provide a finery for luxury, but it will not make us beautiful. Â The more elaborate estate will not make a home. The gaining of medicine will not necessarily give us health. We can use our money to attend the finest concerts or purchase wonderful works of art, but it will not give us culture. Amusements can be bought with our money, but it will not buy us happiness. We can purchase a passport to anywhere, but to heaven. (The Voice in the Wilderness, 1989) So why do we put so much focus on money and what riches it will bring us?
Using our money or the noted impression of wealth may bring much praise from people but it will never substitute for devotion and service to God. Operating under the guise of celebrating the birth of Christ, using our money to impress others with the ”stuff” we buy or the ”stuff” we get, may fool the world but God knows who we are and the motive behind the use of our money.
As we look to this next week in the blessed celebration of Thanksgiving, for those of us in the United States; maybe it is time to pause and reflect upon how we will use our money and resources to celebrate the birth of Jesus this year, since Advent begins on the next Sunday. By giving serious thought to this week’s focus verse from the teaching of Jesus; we can check our celebration strategy with how we are going to use our money, remembering that what we have is only because God allowed it and with that source of money, we need to use our wealth to honor God.
Attempting to celebrate the birth of Christ in a way that is really only meant to impress others is a waste, of not only money but it also interrupts our relationship with God. We may fool the people, but God knows our hearts.Â This year, consider honoring God by serving Him and not honoring the world by following its dictation.
Then He said to them, ”You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God.” Luke 16:15 (NLT)
Thinking Ahead about Money at Thanksgiving
So how can you move away from the mantra the world dictates as the proper way to celebrate Christmas, yet stay fully focused on the magnificent celebration of our Savior coming? You, first, have to become satisfied with what you do have and not with what you don’t. Focus on God and devote your life to serving Him, instead of using money to impress people.
There is great importance in realizing that in eternity, our money will not matter and the ”stuff” we have now will be gone. What will matter is how we served God and how we used the money and resources we had to honor Him and fulfill our purpose. Reflect how you will use your money for God instead of how you will use God’s money to impress people. As you move into a time of Thanksgiving and the beginning of the Advent Season, begin by thinking of the measure of money not by the things you have, but for the things that you can’t buy with money.
Consider moving away from the traditional push and shove of spending money on more ”stuff” for yourself or even others this Christmas season. Begin reflecting now with a heart of gratitude for all that you hold and then consider other ideas of celebrating the birth of Christ with less ”stuff” and using less money. Put your focus on the one for who you celebrate, practicing His teachings. Here are 10 ideas to jump-start your celebration with less ”stuff”, lower money, and greater satisfaction.
- Consider volunteering at a local charity; a soup kitchen, food pantry, clothing center, or local church that focuses and helps people in need.
- Buy blankets and take them to a homeless shelter, stay and see if you can be of help volunteering while you are there.
- Take a small tree and decorations to an elderly neighbor who is no longer physically able to decorate. Be sure to return to remove the decorations after the holiday.
- Help a single parent by volunteering to watch their children for an afternoon.
- Volunteer to help decorate for Christmas at your church also returning for the ”after Christmas” clean up.
- Take food bags to a local women’s or men’s shelter.
- Prepare a hot meal for someone shut in or unable to make a meal for themselves.
- Donate animal food to your local humane shelter, helping out homeless creatures.
- Volunteer to be a caregiver to a disable person. It is often difficult to find caregivers available during the holidays.
- Spend gift money on traveling to visit family or old friends who live out-of-town.
There are many ways you can celebrate the birth of Christ and demonstrate the teaching of Him while taking the focus off of money and ”stuff”. We are challenged to live our life for God and caring for others the way Christ did, not impressing others but leaving a great impression of love. Our motivation for becoming more Christ-like is knowing that the wealth of money and ”stuff” is not a sign of God’s approval as His approval comes in how we serve and honor Him. We can find comfort in knowing that in the eternal perspective, how we serve others is what is important and the things that this world seems to place much importance upon, will mean nothing in eternity.
Consider a different way this year to celebrate the season that brings life to all; the birth of Christ. Begin with a great Thanksgiving and then a strong reflection with how you can serve others in the likeness of Christ.
Love in Christ,
“Money often comes between men and God. Someone has said that you can take two small ten-cent pieces, just two dimes, and shut out the view of a panoramic landscape. Go to the mountains and just hold two coins closely in front of your eyes–the mountains are still there, but you cannot see them at all because there is a dime shutting off the vision in each eye.”Â (Tozer, 2008)Even small pieces of money placed in the wrong position can easily skew your view of creation and the creator. Click To Tweet
Credits The Voice in the Wilderness. (1989). Discipleship Journal(53), 21. Tozer, A. (2008). I Talk Back to the Devil. Camp Hill, PA, USA: Wingspread Publisher.
What are your thoughts? Join Us in Discussion
Have you allowed Christmas to jump ahead of your Thanksgiving? Have you thought about how you will spend your money for Christmas? How do you and your family spend your time celebrating the birth of Christ without the stressful overabundance of spending money on more ”stuff”? Join us in discussion on celebrating the birth of Christ with a great Thanksgiving.