December is here and the Christmas season is no doubt underway. This time of year can be both very exciting and very stressful. I love the idea of buying a loved one something special and then wrapping it up and giving it to them on the greatest day of the year. It’s fun and very rewarding to bring that joy to them. But I’m starting to wonder, have we taken it too far?
“I should buy so and so a gift because there’s a chance they might buy me something.”
How many times have you had that thought in your head? Have you ever followed that thought up with a sigh, when you realize that now this new gift is going to cause you to go outside your budget? Or have you also had the thought that now that you’re getting this new person a gift you’ll also have to buy a gift for a close friend, relative or child of this person?
For me, this has always been the part when the gift giving starts to become more like an obligation and less about me wanting to bless a few close people in my life.
How does God feel about the way we currently celebrate the birth of his son?
Last year I thought I was going to get sick when I saw on the news that a 24 year-old retail employee was trampled to death by the Black Friday crowd as he opened the doors for business. All for what? Is there really something at your local shopping mall that is worth someone’s life?
I wonder how that young man’s family now views the holidays. Are they thinking about the birth of Christ? Are they thinking about a time of giving and serving one another? Or are thinking about their lost loved one getting trampled by the ugly greed of our culture.
For the last couple of years, I have only purchases a hand full of gifts. Most of which are for my son Landon. And maybe a couple more for those who are the closest to me. I don’t do this because I’m being a scrooge or because I’m selfish or cheap. I do this because I want my giving to be a blessing on those I’m giving to. I don’t want my giving to cause me financial stress or debt. I don’t want it to cause some innocent retail employee their life for sure. And I don’t want it cause me to forget the reason we even celebrate this holiday. I don’t want the stress of trying to buy a pleasing gift for every single person I know. Because that won’t bring me joy, that will bring me stress and steal my joy. And we are called to be joyful givers. If you can’t give with joy then you shouldn’t give it all.
So this year as you’re making your gift giving decisions, may you give for the right reasons. May you stay within your financial means. And may you remember the true meaning of Christmas.
By Shawn Ozbun