Consumerism, Holidays, and the Heart
Last year my family and I decided to study the origins of the holidays in a different way. We studied the time of year Jesus was born according to scripture, how his birthday became a celebrated holiday (though birthdays weren’t celebrated in the Bible), and how his birth became a reason you and I exchange gifts.
This article has no intention on explaining these things. Other videos and articles such as this one by Pastor Jim Staley, or this one by ARoodAwakening could be helpful in providing the historical data to help you decipher things like that. However, I wanted to remind you, regardless of your stance on the holidays to avoid consumerism and maintain a life engulfed in generosity.
Is Consumerism Absorbing Our Culture?
Between the government debt down to the consumer debt, the majority mentality in our culture is to spend more than we make, to receive more than we give, and to expect from others more than we have expected from us. Most people spend more of their time-consuming rather than creating, and the apex of consumerism becomes known in the holiday seasons.
People are being trampled to death as crowds stampede into stores to consume. Obesity rates are astronomical due to high consumption and easy access to a plethora of health disasters. Divorce rates are high, in large part, because people are selfish consumers who want to receive, receive, and receive more. I don’t speak on this because I am exempt of the desire to consume, but I speak on this because we can be intentionally self-disciplined, and avoid consumerism (especially in its high time–the holiday season). Avoiding consumerism is an intentional journey that has several parts. Let’s discuss a few…
Watch Your Kids
All too often, you find parents with children in public throwing tantrums because their children are so accustomed to receiving. When the child grows, receiving becomes like a pacifier, then when they reach decision-making ages, they are so self-absorbed. If you haven’t seen it before, watch this family:
The children are kicking their parents, throwing things in the cart, screaming and throwing tantrums. Meanwhile, the parents are trying to be “peacemakers”, so they tolerate the behavior.
As parents, it can be very difficult to place boundaries, to maintain the authoritative position, and to discipline our “sweet babies”. However, during the holiday season, you are presented the perfect opportunity to place clear perspectives, define generosity, and demolish greed and entitlement. A comment like “that is how their family does it, but our family does it like…” can go a long way.
Analyze Yourself and Break Entitlement Mentalities
For my family, studying the origins of the holidays last year was a good “winter spiritual cleaning”. We analyzed our sense of entitlement about what “should” take place on “Christmas”, the day we previously believed was Jesus’ birthday. We practiced gratitude for the blessings God had given us and created a tradition that does not feed our sense of entitlement or greed. I give gifts throughout the year: some as awards and some as “just because”. Studying the origins last year made my family commit to more “just because” spontaneous giving, rather than waiting for one day where we feel a sense of entitlement towards the people around us. Besides, we don’t want to look like this:
Take some time to consider your expectations of others (especially regarding this season). Consider, whether you are expecting someone to buy you something, or whether you would be upset if you received nothing, and ask yourself “why”. Are you receiving your sense of worth from the affirmations you receive in this season? Is that healthy? Are you placing your value in material gifts? Is that healthy?
Garner a Spirit of Contentment
Could you still be content if you received nothing? Remember our brother Paul who said:
“I’m not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I’ve learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13
Don’t for a second believe that I don’t experience discontentment! I have many moments where discontentment creeps up, and I think that’s life. However, our responses can dictate how much of our lives discontentment can consume. Knowing contentment does not come from outside of ourselves is key. Yes, our paradigms can be influences by external factors. and we can respond to them. However, we can monopolize our time with good choices and monopolize another large portion reaping from our good choices. Circumstances may still weasel their way thru, however, with safeguards in place (the most important being prayer and devotion), you can minimize the appearance of discontentment.
Contentment Has a Source?
Contentment does not come from material things, economic status, relationships, money, credentials, education, influence, or power. It comes from God and the Spirit He places within you. We can have every external accolade, and still not have contentment. Don’t believe me? Listen to King Solomon (the one God said He would bless with more wealth than any other) when he said:
To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Ecclesiastes 2:26
In this season, with consumerism as its high, it is easy to fall prey to the common belief that if someone gives me ___________, I will be happy. External things can augment a content spirit, but they cannot create one. Remember…God gives happiness.
Analyze the heart behind your choice to celebrate Christmas this season. This article has no intention of making choices on what you do with your family. I’m simply sharing what we do in my family in hopes to encourage you to be in right position when the Messiah returns. Make sure that while you are giving and receiving gifts, you are guarding your heart from greed, jealousy, rage, and envy. Steer clear from being selfish. Regardless of your age, whether toddler or adult, you can throw tantrums (even internal ones) when you feel like you are not getting what you want. Disconnect self-absorption and consumerism from yourself and your family this holiday season.
Enjoy your relationships and share love!
Tiffany Domena is the host of Kingdom of Heaven Ambassador Blog. She is a mother of two young children, an entrepreneur, and an avid supporter of marketplace ministry. She can be easily reached thru Facebook, by email, or by posting your comments below.