During the Christmas season, people all around us are assaulted with the message of discontentment, commercialism, and materialism. Marketers spend most of the holiday season trying to convince us that we cannot live without their products, our children must have the latest and greatest toys, and we must give these “precious gifts” to our friends and family. The result is that we spend a holiday focused on materialistic things instead of the Master of all things.
So what do we do about this in our own lives? How can we beat materialism this Christmas?
1. We must intentionally be grateful to God.
The first thing we need to do to is to realize just how much we've already been blessed with individually, as believers, and as a nation. Everything that we are and everything that we have are gifts from God. Many people in our churches and communities struggle with this. They believe they worked hard for what they have. But we must help them see that God is the one who allowed them to do these things. We need to treat life - and everything else God gives us - as a gift. Solomon reminds us of this in Ecclesiastes 5:19. He says, "If God gives a man wealth and property he should be grateful and enjoy what he has. It is a gift from God."
Discontentment comes into our lives and materialism becomes our god when we begin to thing that one more thing or possession will give us happiness, joy, or fulfillment. We cannot fill our lives with things. We must fill our lives with the Lord who gives us good things. Rick Warren says, “Happiness isn't getting everything you want; it's enjoying what you already have.”
2. We must intentionally be generous with others.
God doesn't bless us for our own benefit. He does so because he wants us to share it - to give it away. The Bible tells us in 1 Timothy 6:17-18 (NLT), "Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others.”
Every time we give generously, we win a spiritual victory over materialism. Christmas gives us the time to be generous in our churches and make sacrificial gifts for international missions. Why cheat ourselves of the blessing of being generous! When we give something away, we break the grip of selfishness in our lives. How we give tells you a lot about our spiritual maturity.
3. We must intentionally practice a godly perspective of things.
What does it mean to have a godly perspective on possessions? Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NLT): "So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
God’s Word tells us that nothing you see will last. Your cars, iPods, furniture, cell phones- everything - will eventually rust, decay, deteriorate, fall apart, wear out, and return to dust.
God wants us to focus this Christmas on what does last - such as our relationship with Him and other people. That's what really matters. Psalm 17:15 (TLB) says, "As for me my contentment is not in wealth but in seeing God and knowing all is well between us."
This year please do not be so weighed down by stuff that you cannot take a step toward Jesus. Experience Jesus this Christmas and let His love rule in your life!