Q: Every year I tell myself that I'm not going to get caught up in the Christmas shopping crush -- but every year I hit the stores as soon as they open the day after Thanksgiving. I'll probably do the same this year. I know this isn't a spiritual question, but why can't I be more self-controlled? -- Mrs. T.McM.
A: Although it may not strike you as such, in reality this is a spiritual question -- because it deals with everything from the way we use our money, to what we think is really important in life. Jesus said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Luke 12:34).
Is it wrong to want to pick up bargains as you shop for Christmas presents? No, not really; we all love a good bargain, and the Bible encourages us to be thrifty. But how often do you end up buying more than you intended to buy, or spending more than you intended to spend? And how often do you end up angry or frustrated or exhausted, because you've had to fight the crowds or spent too much time searching for one last present?
Take time to plan ahead during these weeks before Christmas. Make lists; write out a budget (and stick to it); set aside time for rest. Be thoughtful about your gifts, also; don't try to impress someone or win their goodwill by buying something you really can't afford (and they don't really need). Set aside time also for special events -- a Christmas concert, a special ride to see the lights, etc.
The most important thing you can do, however, is to put Christ at the center of your Christmas -- and your life. "In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind" (John 1:4).
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