by Erin Bird
At first glance, these two tenets (Spend Less vs. Give More) seem to be contradictory. If you are going to give more, don’t you have to spend more?
It’s like playing the piano. I was a piano major in college. Since I didn’t become a professional pianist, I ended up using my degree to give each of my children piano lessons at home. When each of my kids were learning the difference between playing loud and playing soft, they naturally would want to speed up when the song got louder or slow down when a song got quieter. But it is quite possible to play a song loud and slow (like a national anthem), or quickly and quietly (like a movie soundtrack adding suspense to an intense scene).
Likewise, it is VERY possible for you to Give More while simultaneously Spending Less. For instance, you can give more of your time by making presents this year or by volunteering someplace. You could give someone “coupons” for things like “shovel your drive,” “do your laundry,” “go on a date,” or “wash your car.” All it takes is a little creative thinking. And oftentimes you’ll find presents like these actually mean more to the recipient than a store-purchased gift.
Along with this idea to Give More, I want to challenge you to consider how you can give more financially outside your family and close friends. Whether it be to Riverwood’s Impact Gift (which we will collect on Dec 17 and given to the Waverly Benevolence Fund), or a great Christ-centered organization like Compassion or International Justice Mission, giving helps relieve the tension that so often grips our hearts. Giving financially to others frees us up so our hearts aren’t wrapped up in money. Then we are free to enjoy God and truly live life. Giving to others actually gives us joy.
This is why several years ago our family changed how we did our three gifts to each of our kids. Remember last week, I mentioned how we give each of our children three gifts based on the gifts of the Magi to the Christ Child. The “myrrh” gift we give as a “practical” gift.
But it dawned on us: whenever we need to get our kids something practical, like socks or jeans or winter boots, we just go out and buy it without much thought. Once we realized this, we made a decision with our kids to give away their myrrh gifts. They get to choose giving something like clean water or food or mosquito nets or something else really practical to those in greater need. The first year we did this, I remember one of our kids saying, “I’m really glad we’re doing this!”
Giving More to others gives more joy to you. And it frees you up to enjoy Christmas more. So I encourage you to Spend Less so you can Give More. If God can Give More by giving us Jesus, and Jesus can Give More by giving up his life for us, we can follow His example and Give More of our self this Christmas.