Christmas Messes With My Money-Mind

By David Flowers | 20 December 2016 | Comments (3)

Christmas messes with my money mind - a blog by David Flowers for Stewardship

I stagger away from the shopping frenzy that is Leeds city centre in the run-up to Christmas. I’m burdened with own-label shopping bags indiscreetly disclosing my buying habits.  I stumble awkwardly over the outstretched hand of a beggar and realise that I have been sidestepping other anonymous outstretched hands at intervals all along the precinct.

Questions about the authenticity of these huddled human beings, excuses about being in a hurry and having my hands full provide a flimsy license to avoid giving anything, even a smile. But I can sense the growing tension in my mind and the guilt in my heart. Christmas messes with my money-mind.

Here’s what happens as Christmas approaches:

Firstly, part of me loves to be generous and join in all the giving (and receiving!) but another part of me resents the way the tinsel tsunami intimidates me into spending more than I want - and on stupid stuff. I mean, how much ends up unused and abandoned on bathroom shelves, at the back of wardrobes, or slipped secretly into the bin? I want to be generous but I don’t want to be played – my mind is caught in the tension.

Secondly, the very fact that I can afford to go shopping makes me acutely aware of all those for whom every day is a struggle, never mind Christmas Day. The collision of my wealth and other’s poverty triggers guilt in my heart.

My normal carefully thought-through budget for giving and for spending gets overturned by spontaneous and foolish present buying or by spontaneous and guilt-fuelled philanthropy. I am all for spontaneity in the way we use money—it is an important component in minimising its power over us—but not when it’s the result of a messed up money-mind.

As always, scripture comes to our aid with St Paul’s injunction to the Corinthian church:

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (I Corinthians 9:7-8).

Joy and abundance are meant to be the travelling partners of generosity (and in fact of spending and saving as well). Reluctance and compulsion are signs that all is not well in our money-mind. When we give to the church and to the poor and when we give and receive gifts at Christmas we can do so in an environment of joy and abundance rather than tension and guilt if we first come to the Great Giver and invite His Holy Spirit to tutor our money-mind and guide our hearts. Then perhaps the Christmas spending and giving can be cheerful.


Read more like this:

Strengthening Our Generosity After A Rough Year

How To Be Generous With Our Time

 

Posted by David Flowers

David Flowers is the pastor of Leeds Vineyard and a director of Flowers McEwan Ltd, a financial planning firm in Leeds. He is learning generosity despite being a Yorkshireman.

http://www.leedsvineyard.org 

comments:

Tony Holland

December 21, 2016 11:37 AM
There is no doubt that everyone is extra busy at this time of year. In the season of goodwill, it can feel that such goodwill is being extracted from ones wallet by high expectations rather than as a voluntary, planned decision. However, there will always be opportunities to do good which may test how big our comfort zones are, as well as the level of our faith and discipline. Jesus said we would always have the poor with us and what we give to them, we can't help giving to him as well and in this we will be blessed. Thank you David for your thought provoking blog.

Heather Wilson

December 21, 2016 8:23 AM
Thank you David. This is a poignant reminder of how one can get caught up in a frenzy and forget the greatest gift that was given. I too like to be generous and I too struggle with guilt at passing by the outstretched hands on the street - even occasionally avoiding the 'Big Issue' person from Romania.

Catherine MacIntosh-Dixon

December 24, 2016 9:20 AM
I save for Christmas throughout the year, and have done for a few years now. 8 years ago my husband was out of work and I had this money right there. I couldn't justify spending it on 'stuff' when it was our next mortgage payment, so I didn't. I made biscuits, sweets and other things. It was so liberating I've done it every year since (except for our children, niece and nephews). It also means we can give to charities too.

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