If you’ve ever visited a department store the day after Thanksgiving, you’ll understand the title. Materialism is one of my greatest struggles. I’ll do well for a while, practicing Philipians 4:11-12 (through an oft spoken mantra) but the minute I let my guard down, greed takes hold.
The holidays certainly don’t make it easy. If you spend much time perusing the mall, watching television or sifting through the mounds of spam mail, you’ll likely begin to feel rather discontent. Your sweaters look a tad shabby. Your car, much too old. Your home in need of a remodel. And the more you think about all the things you don’t have, the more discontent you’ll be.
My greatest struggle is with our daughter. We long to give our children the best, to see their face light up when they open that perfect gift, to watch them gather around the tree in anticipation…but before we know it, Christmas has flipped. It’s no longer about Jesus. Now it’s all about them–and us.
And we don’t realize our mistake until twenty years down the road when our children are consumed with self.
The best solution for materialism is to spend a day with those in need. We lived in Louisiana when Katrina hit. Seeing entire families lose their home and everything they hold dear had a way of curing the gimmies. Our church became a donation center. Congregation members and local grocery stores donated food, toiletries, clothes–you name it. And everything was stacked on clearly identified pews. There was a toiletry isle, crackers isle, underwear isle, you get the idea. This way, Katrina victims could peruse the isles and take what they need without having to ask. (These people were humiliated enough and the last thing we wanted to do was place them in an even more humiliating position.)
I was very impressed with the generosity our church displayed, but two young boys in particular touched me deeply. They were both from Russia and had been adopted from an orphanage a few years previously. I believe they were five or six. They approached their parents, toys loaded in their arms, and asked if they could donate some of their most beloved belongings.
It made my meager, skim-off-the-top donations look rather pitiful.
Why were they so willing to give? I believe it is because they related on a deeper level with these displaced families. They knew what it was like to have very little, and perhaps to lose what little you have. But their past experience didn’t lead them to hoard their treasures. To the contrary, it moved them to extreme generosity.
I like that term–extreme generosity. Listen to my husband’s favorite song:
I remember the fist Christmas we participated in Angel Tree. In one hand, I had a bag filled with games we’d purchased for our daughter. In my other hand, I had a paper angel with a name and a simple request printed on it. The girl was nine, and all she wanted for Christmas was a coat.
Wanna bless a child this Christmas? Wanna show him/her what Christmas is really about?
Here are some great ministries that can help you do that:
And give the best gift of all, Jesus Christ: Christ to the World
This video really resonated with me. CTTWIndia
Challenge question: What’s one thing you can do this Christmas to demonstrate the love of Christ?