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Matthew 10:8 – Freely you have received, freely give.
Is there a crazier juxtaposition in the world 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 this Friday and save money on gifts for the loved ones in your life. 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, impatience with the traffic and crowds, and a general stress with the busyness of the season. Thanksgiving may last for a 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 the money you would spend on others could be put to better use this year, perhaps to meet the needs of someone who truly has needs? There are countless worthy possibilities out there, and you may just find that, as Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35). Here are just a few worthy causes to consider this Christmas season:
1) Check out www.donate.worldvision.org and click on the “Gift Catalog.” There you’ll find a long list of ways you can meet the basic needs of impoverished people around the world. $75 will buy a goat that would nourish a family in Kenya; $100 would buy a well with a hand pump that would help provide clean water to a village; and for just $25, you can buy two chickens for a family in need.
2) At www.kiva.org, you can help support third-world entrepreneurs through microloans that could finance fledgling construction, food service, photography, or other businesses that can help an individual or family work their way out of poverty.
3) Go to www.tradeasone.com to buy items from artisans around the world fairly and directly instead of buying everything through your local big box chain stores. Once again, you help people pull themselves out of poverty without just donating money.
4) Check out www.globalgiving.com and consider giving money to community-based projects that need support. Invest in education, health care, and other vital services in parts of the world that don’t have the resources we have.
5) Or, visit www.adventconspiracy.org and use the money you would have spent on presents you don’t need to provide fresh water wells through an organization called Living Water.
Maybe you’re ready to change up the way you do Christmas. Or maybe you can start small, by picking one of these options and putting some money towards good use. Or, maybe you aren’t ready this year to make such a radical change. Whatever the case, I would encourage you to check out some of these sites, and to begin a conversation with your family and friends on how you might reject the consumerism of Christmas and instead make it about freely giving to others in the same way that our Father freely gave His Son to us so many Christmases ago.
And if you have other ideas of worthy places to which to donate, please post a comment.
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