Giving: The Key to Winning the Battle Against Materialism and Covetousness this Christmas

 “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15, ESV)

This Sunday, November 28, marks the first Sunday in Advent. The Christmas season is officially upon us. During this season, we’ll be invited to join in the purchasing and accumulation of “stuff.” How will we fare in the face of such consumeristic materialism? In his chapter on “stuff” in Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World, Dave Harvey reminds us of four lies we believe about stuff that chain our hearts to this fleeting world: (1) My stuff will make me happy; (2) My stuff makes me important; (3) My stuff makes me secure; (4) My stuff makes me rich. But we all know that stuff is elusive; it passes away right before our eyes. So, how can we combat materialism and covetousness as we prepare for Christmas this year? Harvey offers some helpful counsel that we would all do well to heed.

Consider your true riches. When you consider that God has given us Christ while we were sinners, then you will see just what a treasure Christ is and how rich you are. Christ is the one who was rich and became poor for us, “so that you, by his poverty, might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Now, through Christ’s death, we are sons and daughters of God and rightful heirs with Christ of His inheritance. So, consider what you deserve (death and hell) and consider what you have received (eternal salvation)—you are rich in Christ! Nothing in this world compares!

Confess and Repent. Because our culture is consumed with materialism and covetousness, we sometimes forget that they are both sins. Confess your sinful desire to be satisfied with stuff and turn away from that desire by faith to find your satisfaction in Christ. The Lord is faithful and just to forgive us all our sins, including materialism and covetousness, if we simply come to Him and ask forgiveness (1 John 1:9).

Express specific gratitude. Advertisers seek to make us discontent with what we have to get us to buy what we don’t need. We must be thankful for Christ and His saving grace, but we also need to be grateful for everything God has granted us. Not only has He given us Christ, but He has also given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). But that’s not all. As our heavenly Father, He is our great provider. So, every good and perfect gift comes from Him (James 1:17). Are you thankful for the house, car, clothing, food He has provided for you? Everything you have that is good has come from His hand. Therefore, give thanks!

Dematerialize your life. When you realize how rich you are already and come to terms with the reality that you don’t need all that stuff to make you happy, you will understand how little you actually need. Yet, someone else may need what you have—clothes, food, car, etc. So, why not give your extra stuff away! Find out what needs people have and fill that need if you can.

Give generously. Harvey says, “few things kill the coveting heart quicker than depriving it of stuff. Few things reflect the heart of God more than giving graciously.” Generosity through regular giving is a great place to begin growing in giving. If you don’t know where to start, I encourage you to read 2 Corinthians 8-9. There Paul reminds the Corinthians that their giving was to be according to what they were able to give, as they decided in their hearts, generously and cheerfully. If you need a practical starting point, Randy Alcorn suggests beginning with 10% of whatever God blesses you with; this, Alcorn offers, is the “training wheels of giving.” For those who already give regularly, generously, and cheerfully, I want to say thank you! Our prayer is that the Lord would continue to bless us richly so that we may be a blessing. Let me encourage you to pray about giving above and beyond your regular giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions (LMCO) this year. We will begin collecting the LMCO this Sunday, and we will collect it throughout December. One hundred percent of this offering goes directly to International Mission Board missionaries on the field to support their work. Christmas is a wonderful time to reflect the generous heart of our Lord.

So, then, as the pressures of this consumeristic season increase in the days ahead, let us take the time to focus on Christ and to ask God to give us hearts like Christ’s: hearts that give generously and sacrificially. Only then will we be free from the bondage of stuff.


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