I Corinthians 6:12
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
A major focus of Lewis’ website is helping people get out of debt, and Christmas spending is a big problem for a lot of people who are struggling financially. He isn’t (as far as I can tell) a Bible-believing Christian, so his perspective on things will differ from ours in many ways, but the question he is asking is a good one — should we really be spending all the money we spend on Christmas presents?
While I can appreciate and respect those who do not celebrate Christmas because they believe that it is not what the Lord wants them to do, I am absolutely persuaded that it is entirely acceptable for Christians to celebrate, and that it can be (and often is) done in ways that are pleasing to Him. Perhaps I’ll write more on this at some point.
However, if Christians are to celebrate Christmas, it shouldn’t be a festival in honour of the gods of materialism, selfishness, and pride. It shouldn’t be a time where the beauty of giving is twisted into a burdensome ritual.
It is most certainly not pleasing to the Lord to be financially irresponsible just to give gifts that are not needed and may not be particularly appreciated, especially when there are real needs. The Lord does not want us going into debt just so we can throw money around for excessive toys for children. He does not want us to neglect our family’s true needs, the needs of those around us, our responsibility to be wise considering future responsibilities, nor our financial responsibility to His work. He certainly doesn’t want us to neglect those things for temporary pleasures, or so we can pridefully boast to ourselves that we’ve given to others as much as (or more than) they have given to us.
Generosity is a wonderful thing. God gives us many wonderful gifts, and as we are renewed in His image, we should become more and more generous. He is the One who gives us the ability to give, for everything we have is from Him, and He delights in gifts.
It was the Lord Jesus Himself who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) — but He was NOT talking about the ridiculous excess that enslaves so many people at this time of year.
Those people on whom you are spending money? They may be struggling themselves right now in a tough economy, and might actually be relieved to have you be the one to say, “Let’s stop the insanity.” That might be the best gift you could give them this year — caring enough to set them free. And they might also prefer that you be free from the faux obligation of spending money to give them something they don’t need and may not really care about very much.
Please read Lewis’ article and give a real think about how you spend money this year. Maybe it is too late to change what you are doing this year. Maybe family members wouldn’t understand if you changed, and would consider it disrespectful, or unloving, and so maybe you can’t change all that much. But maybe they would rather you spend time with them than spend money on them.
Make sound, principle-driven decisions. And then, to whatever extent you continue to give, rejoice in the God-given ability to do so, and in the confidence that you are giving, not because of being brought into bondage to a human tradition, but because sound, Biblical principles are determining your behaviour.