It's Christmas time! It's Christmas time! Hooray!!!!
Mary Tabb got us all excited about creating a budget for our family's Christmas this year. When I say excited, I mean, I was excited. If you feel the same way I do, I'm at a point in our family's life where traditions are being passed down, created and remembered by our little angels. I feel like right now will be the easiest time to set parameters in the way of how and why we celebrate Christmas.
Mary began our lesson today by giving us some biblical background-always a good place to start!-on how to stay in line with our budgets and why God wants us to do so. First of all, going in debt is NOT a way to honor the birth of Jesus Christ! Too often, we let the world dictate how we celebrate His birth. The world is screaming at us, BUY, BUY, BUY. I have already been bombarded with commercials for the BEST toys and the BEST DVDs and the BEST dolls. I have been bombarded with catalogs showing me and my daughters what they HAVE to have for the world to be a peaceful place! And it's still October, folks.
The Bible tells us how to honor God. In Proverbs 3:9-10, God tells us that we are to honor him with our firstfruits and in return he will bless us until our barns are overflowing. Too often we are robbing God of what is rightfully his:
"Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.
"But you ask, 'How do we rob you?'
"In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.
EEEEEWWWWW. Do you want a blessing or a curse? I don't know about you, but I'll take the former!
It's here that we are told to actually TEST GOD! So many families stretch themselves at this time of year and spend the ENTIRE next year struggling to pay for all the things they HAD to have to celebrate Jesus' birth. And what fun little thing comes along with the fun of debt? STRESS. And stress just don't do a family good. What do the relationships look like in a family who is stressed? Is dad happy when he comes home? Is mom able to give herself to her kids like she could if she were not so worried about the bills? A stressed-out Daddy makes a kid stress out and a stressed-out kid makes a Mama stress out!
When we take on debt in this world, we are essentially doing these things:
1. We're putting God second, or third, or even further down the list.
2. We're putting that person we owe money to before God.
3. We're limiting our ability to serve the Lord because we are serving someone else. (Proverbs 22:7-9)
Wow. That last one struck a chord in me because I've never thought about what twists and turns God may throw at our family. If we are tied down because of debt, what possibilities might we have to say no to? If we are called to the ministry by going on a global mission, if we are called to seminary, if we are called to change careers, will we be ready for God's calling? Will we be ready to say, "YES, God, I'm ready and excited to serve You, not this world and certainly not a credit card company."
Another slant: Are we serving leftovers to God? Are you giving Him the FIRSTFRUITS?For if we are giving our leftovers to God, then our blessings in return will be less. Remember the curse and the blessing?
Then good ole Matthew tells us,
"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." (Matthew 6:19-21)
So the world says, "Get" while the Bible says, "Give." It stands to argue that it is in our best interest to take care of others. We can't take our treasures with us, so we ought to invest in our eternal futures.
Now, the magi did bring gifts to Jesus, a King on Earth. Giving presents is good. Santa is fun. We had a fun time discussing that one. Are you lying to your children? Will they be forever scarred when they learn he's not real? The Answer: Pray. Let the Holy Spirit lead you to what is right for your family.
I had to leave early today, so I missed the actual budget-planning part of today's lesson. However, I think I've gotten in the right frame of mind to get started on our family's budget. Have you started to make YOUR list?
I'm looking forward to the next few weeks. We'll be discussing making meaningful traditions for your family that are Christ-centered. Getting in the spirit already! Who knew?