Read Isaiah 58:6-12
Have you ever considered that you’re rich? Sounds strange, since many of us are accustomed to telling each other how tight things are. Did you know that if you have band-aids, a little medicine, and purified water you are better off than most of the people in the world?
Kind of crazy, huh? If a family makes $20,000 per year (which isn’t much in America) your income is more than most of the world! You’re in the richest 4% of the world’s population! (Check out globalrichlist.com for more comparisons.)
Here are some examples of what money can do around the world:
$8 could buy 15 organic apples (or) 25 fruit trees for farmers in Honduras to sell fruit at their local market. $30 could buy a video game (or) a medical kit for a village in Haiti. $70 could buy a new mobile device (or) a new mobile health clinic to care for AIDS orphans in Uganda. $2,400 could buy a sweet HDTV (or) schooling for an entire generation of children in an Angolan village.
We often think that because we don’t have the latest gaming system, the newest phones, the best sports gear, or the coolest clothes that we don’t have much and that we’re losing out on the good things in life. We might even think we aren’t worth much because of things we don’t have; maybe we’d be happier if we just had that one thing we’re missing. So when Christmas rolls around every December, we’re ready with our wish lists to get the bigger, or the better, or the best.
We’ve seen the shoppers pushing and shoving for TV’s (maybe we’ve done some of this ourselves), but Jesus showed up for a different purpose. To tell us a better story. His story has the possibility of changing what we care about, what we hope for, and what we imagine. Our King tells it lots of ways, but here’s the simplicity of what he says:
This life is very broken, and we all need saving. He is the Savior.
The things that people hope will rescue them aren’t truly strong enough.
Enjoying God matters most, because it brings a real hope in the long run.
We’re here only a little while, so do the things that matter most in his Kingdom.
How we really love God is expressed in caring for others, particularly those who are poor.
So the world values stuff—what we can get, what we can wear, and what we can eat. Jesus tells us not to worry about all of this, but instead to consider how to honor others, show kindness to others, and steward the things He gives for the sake of others. If you’ve expected or hoped people would spend a lot of money on
presents for you in the past, or found yourself spending lots of money in order to get the “better things”, consider stewarding your resources in a way that cares for others (which might even be protecting your own family from the pain of debt!) Consider spending less this Advent season!
- What values or motives in you does this devotional reveal?
- What part did you like in it?
- What part is difficult to understand?
- What did it help you remember or notice about Jesus?
- What does all of this help you imagine for the people of God?
- What does the Scripture describe? Read it again!
Spending freeze: Take a week and “pause” from spending. Commit to stop buying anything that isn’t necessary. (Yikes! This can be difficult.) Use all of the tension to help foster a conversation about our true needs as opposed to things we look to for comfort or rescue. Keep a list of everything you or your family “wants” to buy in a given week.
- How does it feel to be constricted in our spending? Why?
- How do we determine what is absolutely necessary?
- What does this experience reveal about our values?
Create some of your own guidelines here. Maybe spending would be allowed only in generosity towards others.
Confess any frustrations in spending less and how it might affect your attitude as an individual or a family, and then give thanks for all of the blessings Jesus has given you! Walk through each room of your home and express gratitude.