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The days after Thanksgiving and before Christmas represent the busiest shopping season of the year. It’s shopping insanity. People getting up at 3am, waiting in long lines, arguing over the last video game system or the new Elmo…even stampedes and real fist fights. It seems each year it gets a little bit more intense and the retailers always try to push the envelope a little bit more in their marketing efforts to get us to spend more. Even with gas prices 85 cents higher this year and a much shakier economy, the Friday after Thanksgiving aka “Black Friday” got higher sales than last year. Nearly 8% higher!

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Photo by Sarah Gerke
What does that tell you? Americans are continuing to fall for “The Sales Pitch!” What are they buying into? They’re purchasing a false reality that continues to deepen. The average American spends $1.22 for every $1 they earn. Simple math will tell you that won’t add up for much longer. It’s not just individuals, but even the country as a whole. The U.S. government is closing in on $9 Trillion in debt. The dollar is at one of its weakest points in history as many countries and companies are switching over to other stronger currencies.

Even Jay Z is flashing Euros in his latest music video… the Benjamins are so yesterday! So, here’s Americans living in the richest country in the world and it’s still not enough – they have to spend beyond their means because they’re still not satisfied. It seems we can’t appreciate what we’ve been blessed with.

I did a song with my man Surreal called “Appreciate” from the Un.orthodox album and the first verse talks about this mentality:
We always look to what’s next, but what about now / We grind long hours by the sweat of our brow / The system’s so foul / Got us thinking we need it / Work more, spend more, got us thinking we’ll beat it / But the cycle’s repeated / We get so conceited / It gets me heated / So I heeded the callin’ / I’m not called to be ballin’ / But, that’s the freight that most hip-hop is haulin’ / And it’s appaulin’ / From that point of view we’re all broke / King Solomon said riches are just like smoke / They’ll vanish / But most of us live so dope – compared to the rest of the planet / But, some of ya’ll starin’ at me like I’m speaking Spanish / I don’t have 3 houses and 9 cars, but I think I’ll manage / I think I’ll get by / Like Christ said it’s easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye / I appreciate…

So here we are – The Christmas season a time to give and receive and appreciate. Many of us go way beyond what we can really give just so we can try to impress others. We just charge it or take money from somewhere else. Many people find themselves getting deeper and deeper into debt.

That dude King Solomon had some words of wisdom about debt. Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender.” In the original text of Hebrew that word servant also means slave or bondage. Many people have become slaves to their debt and they are in some serious financial bondage.

If you’re reading this and you are a Christ follower…that’s not how we’re supposed to be rolling. We’re supposed to be the ones that are setting the example and learning to exercise that fruit of the spirit; self-control, even when everyone else is flossing and spending beyond what they really have. But it feels good to spend doesn’t it? Yes, it can…but when we over spend we find ourselves falling into these traps that effect many other areas of our lives.

It can effect our stress levels, our relationships, our time with God, and if you’re married – your spouse and your whole family. This is the kind of stuff that can wreck families. It does every day! This is the kind of stuff that pulls people away from God’s plan for their lives. It even pulls people out of full time ministry…or any ministry at all. Talented MC’s drop the mic because their personal finances are in disarray and they can’t continue to fund their music

. Thankfully some also step away knowing they’re not in the place to be a leader and a role model until they work on some of that personal stuff. But, it doesn’t have to go down like that.

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This season represents the greatest gift that we could ever receive – the creator of the universe sending his only son to be the sacrifice for humanity so they could get reconnected back to him. That’s what it’s about. It’s seems we’ve lost the essence of that in the midst of the shopping spree madness. Think about that…then think about what Jesus says in Matthew 6:21 – “The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.”(Message Bible)

This article isn’t about not Christmas shopping…it’s about keeping things in perspective. It’s great to go out and spend within your means and get some things for the people you have relationships with and the people you love and care about. But, consider the most important relationship you could ever have – most of us here would agree that’s with Christ.

What are we doing for him? What are we getting him? This is the celebration of his birthday right? Imagine going to a huge birthday party and everyone brings gifts for each other, but the person with the actual birthday doesn’t get anything, or they get the scraps or leftovers. That’s what happens every year at Christmas.

Many that regularly give to God’s kingdom give much less in December and the months that follow because they spend it on everyone else and he comes last. Some stop giving at all, because God isn’t factored into the celebration one bit.

So again think about Jesus’ words “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I encourage you look at your shopping budget and this year plan to give your greatest gift to a solid church or solid organization that is pushing God’s kingdom forward…after all this is his party right?

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