Keep Out of the Red This Christmas

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The Christmas season is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but do we really honor Jesus when we bring unnecessary stress on ourselves? Jesus himself tells us to be free from worry and anxiety (Matt. 6:24-34), yet we seem to celebrate his birth by bringing these things upon us. Jesus acknowledged that the greatest of our worries are financial and this is never more true than during the Christmas season. Here are five ways you can avoid financial stress this holiday season.
1.             Appreciate the blessings you already have
Proverbs 15:16 (NKJV) Better is a little with the fear of the LORD, Than great treasure with trouble.
Did you know the Bible offers a get-rich-quick plan? It’s called CONTENTMENT. 1 Timothy 6:6-8 says that godliness and contentment is “great gain.”  Charles Spurgeon said that small shoes tend to hurt our feet unless we have small feet, likewise, if we have small means we ought to have small desires or else we will be uncomfortable. One of the Puritans wrote, ‘Contentment works not by adding to our circumstances, but by subtracting from our desires.’ 
Contentment should be at the top of our Christmas list! God will provide for our needs (Proverbs 10:3a), but not necessarily all our wants. If God has not promised to provide our wants, should we really be bending over backwards every Christmas to ensure that we have EVERYTHING we want? 
2.             Keep your priorities straight – money isn’t everything!
Proverbs 23:4 (NKJV)  Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease!
We are to gain wealth through hard work (10:4–5; 6:6–11), but some pursue wealth at the expense of family, worship, and rest. This is against God’s plan for us (Psalm 127:2). Moreover, the person who has a strong desire to be rich will be tempted to sin (Proverbs 28:20; 28:22). The wrong attitude toward money can wreck friendships and even destroy a home. “He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house…” (15:27, NKJV).
3.             Create a spending plan – BEFORE you go shopping!
“The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty” (21:5, NKJV).
The wise man lives by a budget or a spending plan. Such a person develops sales resistance: ‘The naive believes everything, but the sensible man considers his steps’ (14:15). A spending plan will help you say “NO” to pushy salesmen. Don’t let all the shiny, bright plastic stuff distract you! Stick to your plan!
4.             Don’t go in debt for Christmas
Proverbs 22:7 (NKJV) The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.
The average American has 13 credit cards, spends nearly $1,200 at Christmas, and at least 23% is put on a credit card. In March, a whopping one-third of bankruptcy filings cite overspending at Christmas as a major contributor to their financial troubles! Dave Ramsey says, “You don’t have to buy into the commercial hype that says you must go shopping and come home with a dozen shopping bags and $1,000 in debt. That’s not smart. Or merry. Or festive. Or jolly. It’s just an all-around bad idea.”
In the Bible, debt is regarded as a curse (Deut. 28:44). Debt produces bondage to men. As the familiar adage puts it, “When your outgo exceeds your income, then your upkeep is your downfall.” Most of the things we buy at Christmas are knick-knackery and consumable products. These are not the kinds of things worth going in debt for!
5.             Give to those with actual needs
‘The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered’ (11:25).
It is no sin to give Christmas gifts, but it is a sin to overlook our duty to tithe to the Lord’s work and give to those with genuine needs. Giving to the Lord’s work is the first priority in your budget (3:9–10). Proverbs also exhorts the wise man to be generous towards the deserving poor. ‘One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed’ (19:17). Do you know a family that has legitimate needs? Put them in your Christmas budget and bless them this year, instead of only giving lavish and expensive items to those who really don’t need it. 
In all the hustle and bustle and noise and lights of Christmas, the essence of Jesus somehow gets easily lost. “The real measure of our wealth,” said John Henry Jowett, “is how much we’d be worth if we lost all our money.” Character is more important than position, and wisdom than possessions. The angels heralded Jesus’ birth by proclaiming “peace on earth” let us not rob ourselves of the peace that belongs to this time of year by making disastrous decisions!
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