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Matthew 10:8 – Freely you have received, freely give.
Is there a crazier juxtaposition in the calendar year than Thanksgiving and Black Friday? On the former day, we are encouraged to reflect on what we are thankful for, to enjoy what we have, and to develop an attitude of gratitude. And then, millions of people set their alarms for some ridiculous hour so that they can push through the crowds the next morning in order to get the best deals on toys and goods for the holiday season. In the blink of an eye, gratitude turns to covetousness; thanksgiving to full-blown consumerism.
Now, I’m not saying that it’s necessarily a bad thing to go out on Black Friday and save money on gifts for the loved ones in your life. After all, I’ve done it myself! I am saying, of course, what most of us know to be true, that the Christmas season has the frightening ability to inspire the worst in us – greed, the lust for that which we do not have, dissatisfaction with what we do have, impatience and anger with the traffic and crowds (and sometimes family), and a general stress with the busyness of the season. Thanksgiving may be a beautiful day, but the feelings of gratitude can fade quickly in the bright lights of the holiday season.
So why not decide to take a different path this year? Why not decide as an individual or as a family that some of the money you would spend on others could be put to better use this year, perhaps to bless someone who truly has needs rather than wants? If you have children, why not take this opportunity to educate them on what life is like for children in other parts of the world, whose biggest concern is not whether or not they will get an XBox, but whether or not they will have clean water to drink? You may just find that, as Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35).
There are countless worthy possibilities out there, but one to consider this Christmas season might be the World Vision Gift Catalog (http://www.worldvisiongifts.org/). World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. They serve close to 100 million people in nearly 100 countries around the world, truly living out the heart of God for the poor and oppressed.
When you visit www.worldvisiongifts.org, you will see many ways that your money can be used to bless a child or family in need. For example, $200 will buy a water pump to deliver irrigation to farming families in Africa; $35 will send a girl in Cambodia to school for a year; and for just $25, you can buy two chickens for a family in need. One of the best things about World Vision is that many of your gifts are multiplied; for example, a donation of $25 to World Vision will deliver $150 worth of supplies to American children in poverty because of corporations who partner with World Vision to donate clothing, shoes, diapers, and other products.
Do yourself, and the world, a favor and check out www.worldvisiongifts.org. If nothing else, it will be an education as to the challenges faced by many people around the world, and a reality check as to what you and your family really have, and really need, this Christmas season.
And if you have other favorite organizations or causes to donate or support this Christmas season, feel free to post a comment.
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