Da$hing Through The Dough
One of Mike and my first Christmases as a married couple we agreed not to give each other gifts because we could not afford to buy gifts. I really love to open presents so I knew Mike would get me something little. But I really love to give gifts. What Mike really needed was a new suit. He only had one and at that time men wore suits to church. We had just started attending regularly.
While walking around the mall I saw a men's store with a huge sign, advertising suits...1/2 off! I went and looked although I knew I could not afford it. Just like the advertising experts say, the sign made me go in and look, touch, feel and even try some creative financing but to no avail. The suit would be $136.00 with tax! (Remember we are talking 30 years ago!)
I worked downtown and had to park in a paid lot seven blocks away. I would meet a coworker and we would walk together. This particular morning as I got out of my car something caught my eye. It looked like money! The money was all rolled up. I bent down and picked it up. I unrolled it, counting as I went. $136.00! She and I could not believe it!
Immediately I got excited and then realized it was not mine. I called the lot owner and the people in the building next to the lot to ask if anyone had lost cash. I waited two days, called again and was told by both owners that no one had lost money.
I bought Mike that suit! I could hardly wait for him to get up and open it Christmas morning. Now, whenever I lose something, I ask God if I cannot find it, please get it to the right person! God taught me so many lessons that Christmas. For the first time I was trying to be obedient with my money and look what God worked out for me! And while I knew the money was not mine....I never thought about it being God's until much later. I would love to know the story of how that money got there. Not only to the parking space I would choose that day but to the e very place I would step out of my car!
According to a study performed by the National Retail Federation, Americans will be spending more money on gifts in 2018 than they did last year. It is estimated that adults will spend approximately $885 on gifts this year. It saddens me to think of how many people will do this and put it on a credit. The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, fewer than 500 verses on faith, and more than 2,000 verses on money. I imagine it saddens God to see us get focused on the wrong thing this season.
Matthew 6: 19-20, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal." During the busiest time of the year for shopping we must keep things in perspective. It is not worth going in debt. I used to tell my family to write me a letter. That would mean more to me than a store bought gift. I still have those letters! It is ok to buy second hand. People love homemade gifts! Years ago our extended family started playing White Elephant which saved each family so much money. And we had such a fun time. Each person brings an item around their house that you want to get rid of. The more ridiculous, hilarious, silly, worthless gift, the more fun the game. Everyone wants to take home the best present! You have so many times you can "steal" someones gift. There is always so much laughter during this game. Often times, friends, family, coworkers are burdened financially by gift giving and would probably like to stop exchanging but do not want to say anything.
We must recognize that everything we have comes from God. We must not put our hope in material things. Those things will be gone one day. As Christians, we know that all things come from God. We do not own anything. We are to be wise stewards of our money. That means we are a manager, overseer, or a person who acts in the best interest of the owner. A wise steward responsibly manages assets according to the instructions of the owner.
Once we recognize that everything comes from God we must ask ourselves have we given our first fruits of our income to God? Have we saved a portion of our income for emergencies? Set goals to pay off debt. Be generous with what God brings to mind.
The Bible gives us lots of instruction on how to manage our money. It starts with planning. Make sure you are spending wisely. Luke 14: 28, "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to seek if he has enough money to complete it." Proverbs 21: 5, "The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty." Do not spend in haste - there is probably a better plan. We must not incur unnecessary debt.
Proverbs 22: 3, "A prudent man foresees the difficulties ahead and prepares for them; the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences." TLB No matter what we do to manage our money, there are always things out of our control such as medical bills, disability or even death that we need to be prepared for.
Don't let this Christmas season put you in debt. Ask God how you can be a wise steward starting this Christmas season!