Go for Gold This Christmas
by Cynthia Simmons
As Christmas approaches, we are all considering gifts for loved ones while watching how much we spend. I encourage you to pursue gold this holiday season, but let me step back into history to explain what I mean. The magi brought three gifts when they visited the baby Jesus: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Ancients considered these three standard presents for a king. Royalty valued both frankincense and myrrh for their fragrance and for medicinal properties. Frankincense reduced stress, pain and inflammation, while myrrh healed minor skin irritation and eased toothache. The wealthy also employed myrrh as a soothing massage oil.
However, gold was probably the most useful gift and had the most enduring worth. Before money existed, people bartered with whatever they produced. A farmer might offer his vegetables, and a baker bargain with his bread. The two parties would have to agree how many vegetables would pay for a certain quantity of bread, which wasn’t always easy. Over time, people used salt, beads, wheat or corn the same way we would use money. Gold, however, bonds well with other metals, does not tarnish and can be used many ways, so people prized it the most. Eventually, governments minted coins by using precious metals. The coin’s appeal came from the value people placed on the gold.
Our economy has moved away from the use of gold coins to paper and now digital. The cash we use has value by fiat, that is, the law pronounced it legal tender as payment for our debts. At Christmas, we can allow the world’s glitz to influence us, so we have to ask ourselves what we treasure. The second half of Psalm 19 refers to the Word of God, and verse ten says, “They [God’s words] are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold. Sweeter also than honey or the honeycomb.” As we prepare to celebrate, God and His kingdom need to be first place, just like people who coveted gold through the ages.
What are some ways we can do that?
First and most important, my husband and I aspired to honor God with our finances. That meant I had to understand my money didn’t belong to me, and that was hard. Instead, I learned the Lord gave us income to sustain our lives and to have eternal impact. 2 Corinthians says, “…the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” Was it possible we wanted something instead of needing it? How I hated facing that question, because I had to give up my selfish priorities. Also, my husband worked hard to establish a family budget that created a surplus so we could help others as needs arose. Plus, we chose to put aside a small amount each month for holiday giving. When we purchased gifts, we already had the money so we didn’t pay credit card interest.
Second, we came to see gift-giving as a way to bless others, not a means to acquire more stuff. We have five children, and we could have spent a fortune buying the latest gadget. Instead, we chose to address the mind, body and spirit, so our kid’s packages always included a fun piece of clothing. We wanted our kids to keep learning all their lives, so I always added books that educated and deepened their faith. It took me awhile to think of people in other countries, and I still need improvement there. Now I send extra to missionaries for the holidays.
Third, pray over your gift list. God can help you with creativity. Sometimes a simple gift can bring a spark of joy. Frame a photo of an outing with a friend or give a pretty bookmark with an important Bible verse. As you seek the Lord, you may find He gives you insights into who might need a blessing. A lady who just lost her husband might appreciate a thoughtful gift to help her through that first Christmas. Offer your time to someone lonely. Promise an outing for a special person or a hot date with your husband. Maybe your pastor could use a thank-you card because his job is tough. Let the Lord guide you, especially in considering what might reach the heart and encourage.
Fourth, watch for bargains. My mother had a genius for finding perfect gifts on sale. She used to start shopping for the next Christmas on December 26. I had a son who had a problem putting away his belongings, and he’d misplace his clothes. She found a laundry basket that resembled a basketball hoop at a great price. What fun to toss your dirty underwear in that! Sometimes she’d snap up a discounted gift in my favorite color or bring home something she thought looked like me. All her treasures went into hiding until December.
In summary, while you are planning gifts this Christmas, keep eternal things in the forefront of your mind. Prepare a budget and ask God to help you adhere to it. Use gifts as a way to bless others, and find gifts that help your friends and family grow in the Lord. Pursue gold by pursuing God.
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