Christmas is a time of remembering the joy that Jesus brought to the world when he was born that starry night in a manger over 2,000 years ago. The best way we know how to celebrate that is to sing Christmas carols, watch Hallmark movies, drink hot chocolate, and spend hundreds of dollars (sometimes even going into debt) on presents for people that they won’t use for very long.
Does that seem right?
In 2016, the average American spent a whopping $929 on Christmas gifts. And the trend is continuing upward. Perhaps that number doesn’t sound so strange, but how does it compare to the average $729 a year made by Haitians?
That means that Americans spend around $200 more on Christmas than the average Haitian makes in a year.
As Christians we must ask ourselves: Is this a godly way to spend our money?
I’m confronted with this question myself. I grew up loving to spread the Christmas spirit by purchasing gifts for my loved ones. And blessing others is certainly not wrong. After all, “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent?” (Luke 11:11)
And “He who is generous will be blessed,” right? (Proverbs 22:9)
But we can’t ignore the second half of that verse: “He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.”
Most of the time giving is mentioned in the Bible is in reference to tithing or contributing to caring for the poor.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t get your child that bike that he or she has been dreaming of for months or that you shouldn’t buy your husband some socks because his are rife with holes.
I’m offering an alternative.
We all have that relative; you know who he is – every time you ask what he wants for Christmas, he says, “Don’t get me anything. I don’t need a thing.” In my case, it’s my father. It’s not that he is difficult to please, it’s that he has reached a point in his life in which he is not wanting for much. He simply wants others to enjoy themselves during the holidays because that is what makes him happy.
So, what am I giving him this year?
I’m making a donation to one of his favorite programs at LiveBeyond in his honor. This donation will help support the Johnny’s Kids program, a program designed to support the mentally and physically disabled in Thomazeau, Haiti. He will be overjoyed to know that our physically disabled Haitian friend, Badi, will be provided with care because of his Christmas present. LiveBeyond actually has a Christmas catalog that offers a variety of choices to suit your relatives’ interests, be they child sponsorship, agriculture, nutritional programs, and more.
And we at LiveBeyond aren’t the only ones to do this type of thing. Heifer International is famous for its program that allows people to purchase farm animals in honor of their friends and family members for Christmas. Operation Broken Silence allows you to select the amount of contribution you are willing to make and compares that to how many textbooks or pencils that purchases for their schools in South Sudan.
Make your gifts this year a little more meaningful. Jesus gave His life so that we sinners could enter into God’s Kingdom. (John 3:16) Nothing we can do will ever compare to His ultimate sacrifice. But if we can give life and give life abundantly to others, (John 10:10) we will surely be following in His footsteps.
For “He who gives to the poor will never want.” (Proverbs 28:27)
Devin Vanderpool is the Director of Communications for LiveBeyond, a non-profit humanitarian organization founded by David & Laurie Vanderpool in 2005 dedicated to providing clean water, medical care, adequate nutrition and the love of Jesus to the poorest of the poor. To learn more about how LiveBeyond is transforming lives for the Kingdom of God in Thomazeau, Haiti, see http://livebeyond.org/blog/.