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Overcoming Consumerism with Contentment This Christmas

5 Mins read

There is certainly on denying that Christmas is one of the most consumer-focused times of the year. According to a recent study published by the National Retail Federation (NRF), the average American spends $997.73 on Christmas gifts every year. We live in a society that tells us that we should always be looking for opportunities to get more, and Christmas is a season filled with gift giving. With that in mind, let’s discover how to find contentment at Christmastime in a world that teaches consumerism.

No matter how much time we spend telling ourselves that we’re going to focus on the real reason behind the Christmas season, there is no escaping the fact that the holiday has become largely commercialized. We already live in a society that teaches us that we need to always be looking for a way to get more. We want more money, more belongings, more everything. Since gift giving is such an important part of our Christmas traditions, it only stands to reason that finances play a large part in the holiday season for many people.

Take a look at some numbers that were published by Capital Counselor just before Christmas in 2021:
• 10% of adults in Europe say that they will go into debt in order to buy Christmas gifts.
• American parents expect to spend around $276 per child.
• 41% of Americans say that they are willing to go into debt in order to buy Christmas gifts for others.
• Based on studies that cover returned items, $15.2 billion is spent every year on gifts that people take back to the stores after the holidays.
• Americans will spend $997.73 on Christmas gifts this year.

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When you look at those numbers, there is no denying that money has become the focal point of the Christmas season. As Christians, we understand that the real reason for Christmas is the fact that we get to celebrate the arrival of Christ into the world. Had it not been for His birth, there would have been no death, burial, and resurrection. For us, the celebration of Christmas is a celebration of the beginning of the story that changed our lives forever.

Our culture teaches us that we should view Christmas as an opportunity to get more. What would your Christmas look like if you spent more time focusing on the things you already have instead of the things that you wish you had? It may seem hard to believe, but you can find contentment this Christmas season. Doing so may require you to change the way that you think about the holiday season, but the results will be worth it.

Getting Back to the Basics

Matthew 1:18-21 (NLT)
This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

The first step in overcoming consumerism and experiencing contentment during the Christmas season is found in refocusing on the things that really matter. Yes, Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with your friends and family members. However, the true meaning of the season is found in the story of Christ’s birth.

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Had it not been for the events discussed in Matthew 1, there would be no hope for us. God knew that the only way that we could ever truly have a relationship with Him was if He sent His Son to serve as an intermediary, someone who could connect the human and the Divine. He saw our futures long before any of us were ever born, and He knew that we needed a way to be in a relationship with Him.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with exchanging gifts this Christmas, but it is important that we take the time to truly consider the real meaning of Christmas. The value of this season cannot be shown on a price tag. The purpose of this season cannot be wrapped in pretty paper and shiny bows. Instead, the true meaning of this time of year was wrapped in strips of cloth and placed in a manger. In your quest to overcome consumerism with contentment this Christmas, spend some time carefully reading and reflecting on the Christmas story. Getting back to the basics of this season will help you recognize the spiritual, eternal implications of what Christ’s first arrival in the world really means for you.

Avoiding the Debt Trap

Luke 14:28-29 (NLT)
“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.”

As we’ve already established in the statistics that we discussed earlier, people are not afraid of going into debt in order to buy Christmas gifts. Unfortunately, going into debt often creates a vicious cycle that people spend years trying to get out of.

There are two things that we should clear up before we talk about avoiding the debt trap this Christmas. First, Jesus was talking about the cost of discipleship in the passage that we just read, and how important it is for us to know what it means to follow Him. However, the fact that no project should be started without first setting a budget applies to every walk of life.

Additionally, we should understand that consumerism doesn’t just involve wanting to receive gifts from others. While our intentions may be pure, it’s easy to fall into consumerism overload in the pursuit of buying the people you care about the best Christmas presents possible.

God does not want you to spend your life trapped in the vicious cycle of financial stress that results from taking on unnecessary debt.

Before you start spending money that you don’t have in order to buy gifts for others, spend some time evaluating how much you can afford to spend on Christmas and go from there. Doing so will not only reduce the amount of stress that you experience after Christmas, but it is also a sign of good stewardship, which matters to God.

Rejoice in the Greatest Gift Ever Given

Galatians 4:4-5 (NLT)
But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.

Have you ever watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas?” If not, here’s a quick outline of how the movie unfolds. Charlie Brown and the rest of the children are getting things ready for the Christmas performance. Lucy is stressed and is barking orders at everyone. Charlie Brown is trying to keep the peace, but he’s starting to crack under the weight of his expectations. Even Snoopy comes across as a bit stressed about the whole thing.

However, the entire stage calms down when Linus, blanket in hand, comes out and shares the Christmas story as told in Scripture.

We could learn a lot from Linus. The stress associated with buying gifts and trying to get everything done comes to a calm when we recognize that the greatest gift we could ever receive was given to us thousands of years ago when God bought our freedom so we could be adopted into His family.

No matter how much money you spend this Christmas, the greatest gift has already been given. Rest in that, rejoice in that, and share that gift with others.

A Closing Prayer:

Heavenly Father, help me to find contentment during a season in which the world tells me I need to spend more. Help me to focus on the gifts that You have given and to share them with others. In Christ’s name, Amen.

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