Christmas or Giftmas?

Written by Pastor Tope Akinsiku, Source: treasurethings.org

I love Christmas!

I remember this particular year that I was extra emotional and felt I deserved a treat. I had worked very hard through the year. Indeed, it had been a trying year for me. My finances weren’t in the shape I had hoped they would be, but I  felt I needed to treat myself.

Off I went to the shops, to purchase this well-deserved leather jacket I had been longing for. I love the feel of the leather and the smell of this particular jacket was delightful. It just felt right. It was quite an expensive purchase, but was well needed. It was super comfortable, but that comfort came with a price.

Photo Credit: Foter.com / CC0
Photo Credit: Foter.com / CC0

It was a buy-now and pay-later purchase and I was sure I would have the money soon. The store had given me three months to pay off the jacket before the interest kicks in. This sounded great at the time, but I once again managed to land myself in some serious debt just in time for the new year!

The three months had past and I did not have the money. The creditors came knocking and I was forced to start paying off the purchase. I became very stressed as this ‘little treat’ quickly became part of the misery I was trying to pacify.

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This reminded me of a woman in the bible, whose husband had died and left a lot of debt. The creditors were now calling for her two children when she could not pay. A rather painful situation.

The slight difference in this scenario was that the debt this woman had to deal with was passed onto her against her will. I, on the other hand, accumulated this debt as a result of a decision I willingly made.

Then He said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”  (Luke 12:15)

The “buy-now and pay-later” philosophy has permeated our culture so much that we sometimes ignore our better judgment.  The incentive to acquire an item to feel good and project an image of wealth almost sent me into bankruptcy.

Photo credit: Keoni Cabral via Foter.com / CC BY
Photo credit: Keoni Cabral via Foter.com / CC BY

The interest I paid was double, if not triple the amount of the jacket itself. I had swallowed the lies that this culture tells us about self-worth and the extravagant items it can be found in.

I soon realized that I needed to take responsibility by delaying gratification. The debt was so much that I was suffocating. It almost choked me, until God had mercy on me. Then I remembered two key things I was repeatedly taught over the years:

Owe no man nothing except to love (Romans 13:8)

The borrower is the servant to the lender (Proverbs 22:7)

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During this period, I learned a number of lessons:

  1. I learned to only spend the money I have, all other expenses can wait.
  2. I learned that I was robbing my future to pay for my present. Furthermore, I was robbing my (future) children of their future, because they would have to pay for my foolishness. This led me to change my thought processes.
  3. I learned the importance of delaying gratification.  I always ask myself this question, “Is it a want or a need?” If it’s a want, then it can wait. If it’s a need (like food, shelter, essential clothing), then I can get it, but only within my means, not on credit!
  4. I learned that I need to be the Miracle in another person’s life. I need to live a life of impact, not one based on the accumulation of “things”. Life is about more than just me!
  5. I realized that the “feel good” factor I was longing for was a sign of a deep longing for a relationship with my Saviour. Nothing can fill the void of a relationship with HIM!

“Things” and  feelings associated with them are transient. They cannot make you feel good and if they do, it won’t last for long. 

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