As I am preparing for the message on "Spending Less" this weekend, I have been doing research on the spending habits of Americans during the Christmas season. What I have discovered has been literally shocking. The amount of money that we spend at this time of the year is a bit embarassing.
The "disappointing" Black Friday sales totals are in the ballpark of 3 billion! That is disappointing? Skye Jethani, a blogger, describes it this way: "Two-thirds of the U.S. economy is based on consumer spending, and 50-75 percent of most retailers annual profits are generated during December. This means the weeks before Christmas are the high holy days of consumerism."
Essentially, and this will not surprise anyone, Christmas is an economy maker or breaker. The insanity of spending has distracted from what this time of year is originally about. Now, for those of you reading who subjected yourself to the Black Friday ritual of hunting for the bargain among savage shoppers, hang with me for a minute. I am quite confident that getting Christmas gifts for family and friends is nothing to feel bad or guilty about, giving is truly a blessing.
But, what if we actually did spend less? What if we made an effort to seek relationship with our neighbors? What if we didn't let this Christmas season go by without mending a relationship with a friend or family member? What if we really did experience the peace and joy that comes with the Emmanuel (God with us)?
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[a] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." - Matthew 6:25-34
Take the challenge, spend less this Christmas and invest in the people around you with something priceless: you.