Maybe you’re like me, and you’ve discussed with your family the idea of not exchanging Christmas gifts this year because you end up spending money on frivolous things or mindlessly swapping gift cards. But soon the pressures of holiday traditions start to set in. Would I miss not opening presents on Christmas morning? Would I feel disappointed by the lack of gifts under the tree?

The pressure of buying gifts can also turn into a strain on our finances. Experian Consumer Services recently conducted a survey on more than a thousand users, and found that 41% “feel obligated to spend more than they can afford” on presents at the holidays. We often believe the lie that stuff can make us happy (or others happy), and therefore feel tempted to overspend.

Sometimes we need to stop and think about the reason we are buying gifts in the first place. Is it for the sake of tradition or expectation? Is it to prove our love to someone? Do we even know the reason, or has it become routine?

Let’s be clear; gift giving is a good thing. The act of giving is a reflection of what God has done by giving us His son. But Jesus didn’t come to earth to give us stuff; He came to give us Himself. (Titus 2:13-14)

Jesus didn’t come to earth to give us stuff; He came to give us Himself.

Our reason to give gifts should be to bring joy to our relationships with family and friends. We should never throw money at a gift for someone as a way to prove our love. When we build deeper relationships with the people we're buying gifts for, we prove God's love. Let's take gift giving a step further and give ourselves.

Jesus demonstrated how much he valued his relationships with others. When Jesus knew he only had a few more days left in his ministry on earth, he made sure to visit his dear friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus (John 12:1-8).

Let’s follow Jesus’ example by investing time with our family and friends. Call or visit with family that you don’t often see. Comfort a friend who is facing difficult times. Share your grace story with a neighbor who doesn’t know Jesus. Invite someone to come with you to church on a Sunday or on Christmas Eve.

Our time spent with people is always more valuable than any gift we can give.

If you’re interested in learning more about what the Bible has to say about money and how our spiritual and financial lives are related, visit our Stewardship ministry page.

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