Friday, December 11, 2009

Frugal For Christmas

With the economy where it is this year, doing a lot of spending at Christmas time for many of us is either an impossibility if we want to avoid debt, or may just not seem like the prudent thing to do.

People are desperately seeking the "secret-formula" for having a fabulous Christmas without breaking the bank. I have spent a lot of time thinking about this and I believe that to truly achieve this balance, we have to examine the way we think about Christmas. Who do you believe when it comes to Christmas?

If you believe in "Man's Economy" at Christmas time, you have probably had your ideas shaped primarily by the Advertising and Marketing industry and they are "selling" you a lot more than just merchandise! Man's economy has sold us an entire package of what Christmas is supposed to look like and I think we have bought it hook. line and sinker! Remember a few weeks ago when I told you about how torn I felt at Christmas time? That's because I was trying to live in Man's Economy and God's Economy at the same time! I think as Christians we all struggle with that because we don't realize how indoctrinated we have become to the world around us! It takes some pretty intentional effort to free ourselves from this thinking.

I would like to suggest that perhaps we choose to be "frugal" this year when it comes to Christmas.

Frugal is a misunderstood word. We often associate it negatively with "being cheap" or "less generous" perhaps. It certainly seems to be "restrictive." It certainly is not a word we often like to associate with Christmas. Frugal just sounds "Scrooge-like!"

In reality, the word "frugal" simply means, "avoiding unnecessary expenditure." It's about being a good manager. Being a manager is different from being an "owner." The resources you are watching over don't belong to you, so if you want to be evaluated as doing a good job, it is important for you to know how the owner thinks his resources should be managed.

Scripture is pretty clear about ownership.

Deuteronomy 10:14: "The earth is the Lord's and everything in it."

Everything belongs to God and he calls us to be managers or "stewards" of HIS stuff. That being the case, does anything change at Christmas time? Do we somehow assume the roll of "owner" for 30 days just because it's now December?

So, if we want to be "good managers," at Christmas time, wouldn't it be smart to look at the "Owner's Manual?" Scripture is our guide. So how then should Christmas look in God's Economy?

Well, if we look at that first Christmas, we wouldn't be see an example of over-abundance and luxury. We would see simple surroundings. No "pomp and circumstance." We would see God lowering himself to become man in the most vulnerable of forms...a baby. There was only one way that our Lord was extravagant and that was in His giving. He came to give us himself. His birth was meant to be the vehicle to pay off debt not create it.

So how might it look to be frugal this Christmas? Perhaps the question should really be, "how would Jesus like me to use HIS money?"

I think Jesus wants us to think with an eternal perspective.
"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." Matt. 6:19-21

It's not about getting everything we want. It's about having what we need and making sure others have what they need.

He tells us what is near and dear to his heart...

Matthew 25:40I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Proverbs 21:13 If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.

This holiday is supposed to be about Jesus. We are HIS managers. Shouldn't we aim to celebrate his birthday in a way that would please him the most. To give and show love for those we love most and ALSO the ones who are dear to Him?

So being frugal isn't stingy at all. It's all about pleasing the only ONE we should be concerned about pleasing. After all it is HIS birthday.

(And check out my blog for money-saving ways to be "frugal" this Christmas!)



Steve said...

Amen. I too have been caught up in over spending, and why I would ask myself afterwards? This was before I understood the meaning of Christmas. We should not have to buy gifts for everybody we know, just so they know we care for them. In a year, they should already know this,if we've done our part to tell them, but more then tell them, we need to show them our love for them throughout the whole year. God bless

Sonya Lee Thompson said...

Great post! It is His money and we are managers of it, so consulting with Him before we purchase anything is critical. I try to literally take Jesus with me when I shop. I pray before I enter the parking lot. It is really helpful to avoiding those impulse buys.


Sue J. said...

Your post brought to mind the Scripture about the master giving talents to his servants for their use and investment. We can do much with what God has given us, so long as we seek to make an investment in that.

What if we continued to invest in people and relationships instead of mass spending or burying our opportunities? Lord help us if there is only one "Black Friday" on serving!

Thanks for explaining 'frugal' because it is easily misunderstood.

Kelly Combs said...

Thanks for this post. Very well written. I am heading over to your blog for the frugal tips.

Edie said...

Great thoughts Stacy!

"we don't realize how indoctrinated we have become to the world around us! It takes some pretty intentional effort to free ourselves from this thinking." This can be applied to much more than just how we spend His money too.

Warren Baldwin said...

Another very good post about Christmas and money. Something I would add, too, is that whatever we do buy at Christmas should be quality. So much junk is bought at Christmas b/c we are in that 'man's economy' mindset you wrote about. Two weeks after Christmas the junk is useless and has to be thrown away. We would do better to honor God, use our money wisely, and have some to share with others, if we bought less items but what we did buy was sufficient quality to last for years. Thanks for challenging our thoughts.

Warren Baldwin said...

Would you mind if I used some of this in our church bulletin?