One of the primary ways Satan can sink his hooks in us as Christ-followers and Christ-following families is with money and wealth.
Though we can fall into the “money trap” all year round, it is especially compelling at this time of year with Christmas just around the corner. Not only that but, with COVID impacting most of our incomes, we can be tempted to stretch ourselves too thinly, racking up debt just to make someone smile.
Several years ago, my husband suggested that we stop giving gifts at Christmas since it shifts our primary focus from the “Gift” (Christ) to each other.
Great idea! However …
I just couldn’t stomach the idea of not buying gifts for my sons and extended family members. I loved being able to bless them (still do!) with a gift they might not have bought for themselves or to give them money to buy something they couldn’t afford without our help.
If this was all it amounted to—simply blessing others—then it might not be such a trap. Especially when we stick with God’s idea of what a “blessing” really involves.
It’s just that buying gifts and pursuing money or wealth can snowball on us, especially when it comes to our kids at Christmas time.
Consider how Jesus replied to someone who wanted to follow Him …
“Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Luke 9:58
Jesus was content to sleep on the cold, hard ground. Yet, we feel we’re deprived if we can’t buy an ergonomic pillow for our heads or a new bedspread and sheets imprinted with our kid’s favorite action figures.
Please do not misunderstand me!
I’m not saying that buying these things is sinful. It’s just that we need to check our motives and methods when dealing with money, especially when it comes to our children.
Today, I will be pulling out some insights and tips for avoiding this trap from the passage in 1 Timothy 6:6-10.
1. Pursue contentment as Christ-following parents.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6
The Greek word Paul used for contentment here is autarkeia and means that we do not need anything other than Christ to bring satisfaction. Christ, after all, provides “life to the full” (Jn. 10:10).
What more do we need?
When we allow a desire for money or possessions to overtake our desire for God, we give in to the sin of discontentment. We are, essentially, being ungodly or unChrist-like.
Worst of all, when we allow discontentment and greed to take root, we model this sinful pursuit and priority for our children. We not only give them gift after gift at Christmas (and beyond) but also give them a roadmap that leads to this sinful disposition.
2. Keep your focus on the two “E’s”—essentials and eternity.
“For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 1 Timothy 6:7-8
Most of us live comfortably with conveniences and material possessions at our fingertips. That’s why it’s so hard to keep our focus on the “essentials” in life.
But what if this Christmas you only spent money on your meal and one new outfit per family member? Would you hear groans coming from your children’s lips?
As Christ-followers we need to keep our focus on eternity and not become too comfortable with our lives on earth. Buying stuff all the time deepens our comfort level here, making our eternal home less and less appealing.
Is that the message you want your children to learn from your life? That this is all there is?
Please know that I’m preaching this to myself since I love giving gifts and being generous at Christmas and all year-round. But perhaps I’m letting the money trap imprison my heart and my family’s hearts with this approach. What do you think?
3. Love God more than anything or anyone else.
“Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:9-10
If we do not love God more than anyone or anything else, we won’t be the only ones falling into this money trap. We will be teaching our children to love money and things more than God.
This could mean your entire family will wander away from Christ, at least wandering away from a vibrant faith.
Perhaps, this is the most important truth and tip I’m sharing today. After all, I can talk all day about loving God and sound more like a clanging cymbal, right? 😉
What exactly does loving God more than anything or anyone look like?
For me, it means pouring more money into ministries and charitable opportunities than into my family’s closets, toy boxes and bank accounts. We certainly have more opportunities to help people out in 2020 than ever before!
Again, for me, it also means living simply and not expecting my husband to buy me the umpteenth pair of jeans or buy him another technology gadget this Christmas.
Most of all, it means contemplating what I will give to Jesus at Christmas and then resolving to give this to Him all throughout the new year.
One gift that I plan to give Jesus is more time praying for and seizing opportunities to share my faith in 2021. The second gift will be to give financially to a family in our church that has been hit hard by COVID.
I hope you’ll consider what you and your family can do for and give to others at a time when we celebrate the ultimate gift of Christ!
[bctt tweet=”What is one gift you plan to give Jesus this year and beyond? Remember it is HIS birthday, after all! #reasonfortheseason” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
Interested in a Bible study that will take you on an inspiring journey through the story of the birth of Christ? Then have I got the book for you!
My Bible study, Messiah in a Manger, is on sale now and for a limited time leading up to the season of Advent. Click this link for the paperback that’s on sale (until 12/6/20) for just $3.99 and click this link for the Kindle version that’s on sale for .99 cents!
Then come and join me, going through this study in a closed Facebook group. You’ll be able to interact virtually with me and the other participants, view my Facebook live videos that will discuss a summary of the notes and comments for the week, and will be given many other resources like FREE printables, templates and tools.
The study will kick off the week of December 6, 2020 and will go for two weeks. You don’t have to buy the book to particpate, but going through the study with others is the perfect way to prepare your heart for Christmas! Click here to request to join and reserve your spot now! For more info on the Facebook Bible Study, click here.
Interested in the other posts in this Out of Balance series? Click here! If you’re interested in a post I wrote on avoiding another money trap—debt—click here.
What is one gift you want to give to Jesus this year?
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