Monday, December 5, 2011

the simple act of giving

Christmas time is the one time of year I always seem to find myself in close proximity of shopping malls. I think it must be those big red and yellow signs that are written in bold letters "SALE" that draws me in. I love shopping, doesn't matter what I am shopping for, I just love it. A common saying that is used in my family is "Burning a hole in your pocket." Referring to having money in our pockets, and its just burning a hole, so you better spend it! Well, that got me really far (NOT). I hate saving, and I have never seen the point of it. Why save, when you can go out and buy a new outfit? I think this mindset developed when I was a child, I always wanted to have the newest and latest gadget, which then carried onto my teen and adolescent years when wearing the latest Abercrombie logo shirt was based on your popularity at school. Now this may sound silly at first, but aren't we all victims of this? Maybe for you it wasn't the Ambercrombie and Fitch shirt, but maybe it was those Pokemon cards, or those little weird beanie babies things, (sorry no offense, you have to admit those were kinda weird....)

In Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus teaches about Money:

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

All of us work and have jobs. We work to support ourselves, our families, our hobbies, our interests, etc. I can remember working one summer of my sophomore year of college, and I literally wrote down two full pages of things I wanted to buy before I went back down to school in the Fall. All of the things on this list were clothes, (no surprise there). Long story short, I bought all of these things - and do not wear any of them today. The point I am trying to make is that so many of us work so hard to buy that one thing (or for me it is usually multiple) we "have to have." Taking from the passage in Matthew, Jesus says do not store up all of these treasures; treasures that will either go out of style, will end up in the back of your garage, or something that will eventually fade away. Jesus says store up treasures that not even thieves can steal. This Christmas season I am working at Nordstrom, and I found myself making that annual list of things I wanted to buy while I still got my discount. I then felt convicted when I read Matthew 6.  How long will a new blazer and new boots last me? Probably at the most 2-5 years. Instead of spending $300 on a blazer and boots, I can sponsor EIGHT children in a country where that don't have clothes, water, food, nutrition, healthcare or education. Giving a child in need of something so basic, can change their lives forever, it may even keep them alive. This is what Jesus is talking about, store up our treasures in things that will last forever. "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

How convicting. I worry so much about having enough money to buy something I don't even need, when there are children and families all around the world that are trying to figure out how they are going to feed their kids dinner tonight. How selfish of me. That pink blazer and brown boots aren't looking so appealing now. For some families, Christmas time is about getting presents, going to the nutcracker, shopping, eating, drinking, parties, etc. I think the season of Christmas should be a party to celebrate the birth of Jesus (You know CHRISTmas...the birth of CHRIST). The man that was born into the world whom willingly was nailed to a cross to die for our sins, so we could then be healed from our own sins one day.  This Christmas season, why not give and live like Jesus did? Did you know that 80% of the giving in the world is from only 20% of the people? Look into your neighborhood, go to a giving tree at the mall (but avoid all retail vendors), walk around downtown Portland. There are starving people everywhere. There are kids that don't even have jackets to wear in this 40 degree weather. How are you going to give this Christmas season?

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