Enjoy a Recession-Proof Christmas

Philippians 4[19] But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.3John [7]Because that for his name's sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. Psalm 62 [5] My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.

We are entering the season perhaps few dread because of the traditions and pressures to show love through giving and the hard-to-resist marketing of items and offers for consideration. Indeed, this is the month that cries spend; spend more and a little bit more. Give... give more...give a little more.

I often wonder the perspective of Jesus... who as a baby received gifts from wise men...only to become as He grew the ultimate gift poured out to and for all of mankind. God also said the silver and gold is already His and so cannot need what He already has. I do not want to speculate where the tradition of gifts and seasons celebrations really began as there are hardly scriptural references of saints celebrating birthdays. Rather ominously - in the Bible, birthday celebrations were mentioned only twice. Pharaoh's birthday (Gen. 40:20) at which his chief baker was hung and Herod's feast (Matthew 14:6 & Mark 6:21) at which John was beheaded. I plead to someone reading...do not sabotage your finances or decapitate your future in this period as you seek to make an impression. Inappropriate collections to ministry can also lead to early termination... spiritually initially. Let God finance His work.

It is however a good time to tell people about Jesus and reflect on the approach of Jesus Christ to giving and Bible directions to inform financial decisions. It is a time to model His ways for the world to see. What would Christ have done differently in this season as He lived the recession-proof life? For all He needed was indeed provided. Consider the following seven areas for examples.

1. God does not need your money but needs more of you and your repentant heart. Be not under pressure to give to ministry if not led by the Spirit of God. Rather pay all your debts - be sure the basic needs of your family, care for parents, wards etc. are covered and seek the Holy Spirit's guidance to give...Only give joyfully.

2. God is your source, therefore make your financial needs known to Him and do not be dependent on man or be expectant or excited in receiving from men. Do not form the habit of making your needs known to men. Do not leave an obvious hint of your need to the well-dressed neighbour in the church.

3. Be cautious of gifts you receive...never put any under pressure to give or be compelled to accept and consume every gift. As you seek God's face in giving, do the same in receiving. Do not put yourself under undue influence as a result of significant receipts. If it seems very rude to return an inappropriate gift it may be easier to openly redistribute or channel these gifts to a known charity (office gifts are best handled this way...do not be seen taking inappropriate gifts from suppliers home). Remember, Abram rejected the gift from the King of Sodom. Gen. 14 [22] And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, [23] That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich

4. Never be elated or excited at receiving money /gifts...you may just be a channel and it may not be for your consumption...seek God's direction. Similarly do not be upset if you lack or lose money...make your needs known to God. A gift is often a test...be joyful when you have passed. Christ received from men and ministered His life to all. Do not be a random receiver collecting from those who do not receive your ministry. Be sure you are giving out more even to those you receive from. Abram rejected the gift from the King of Sodom. He passed the test. Gen. 14 [22] And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, [23] That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:

5. Never purchase impulsively. Being able to afford an item does not mean you can go ahead to buy it. Far more good may be done by considering alternative possibilities as God leads you. Do not purchase love with money (true love is not for sale) or pressurise others to spend to prove love. Most giving can be selfish "investments" in disguise as it expects something directly in return from men....and God stops being your source. Prayerfully plan a budget for the season and adhere to it. Never use credit to show love as you buy gifts, spend to improve lifestyle or to entertain.

6. If in ministry, be cautious not to squander money collected from those poorer than you for your own personal luxurious lifestyle or family leisure use. God hates oppression of the poor. There will be accounts required of us.

7. There are many inexpensive things that are valued and leave far more endearing memories than money...your time spent with family and loved ones, an apology in a thoughtful note, a five minute call just to show you remember and truly care, rekindling of neglected relationships e.g. with your teenage daughter, a word of appreciation to your pastor etc...these may cost almost nothing.

Enjoy the season...remember after all they call it Christmas...should we not be most like Christ at this time? And one most important thing...when we give as we must - remember we are to be generous to others especially the less privileged and not over-indulge ourselves...

Proverbs 11[25] The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself. Proverbs 22: [9] He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor. I Timothy 6[8] And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

And you can give your life to Jesus Christ this Christmas...indeed the best thing you can give...

Bode

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