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  • Writer's pictureRenata Joseph

Christmas Need or Christmas Greed?

One of the unique opportunities of living cross-culturally is to observe culture from an outside perspective. Being in one's own culture is like being a fish in water- you don't notice the water or question it; it's simply your world.

When North Americans visit developing countries for the first time-whether on vacation or a missions trip, they are often struck by the poverty they see. People living in shacks, outdoor toilets and kitchens, and dirt floors are jarring for someone who has always enjoyed the comforts of North American life. Without fail, they will say, "These people have nothing, but they're still happy." I remember having similar thoughts when I went on my first international missions trip.

A missionary friend of mine brought some reality to this perspective 19 years ago, when I first came to Belize. I was waxing poetic about how content the people were with the simple village life when she challenged me to walk the village at night. Sure enough, shining through the slats of wooden shacks were large flat screen TVs, much bigger than I had in my house in the US. She reminded me that greed is part and parcel to the human condition, something that every culture (and every person) has to contend with.

Luke 12:15

Then (Jesus) said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed;

life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

Celebrating modern-day Christmas has become such a commercial enterprise. One that focuses on material gifts. But even in families where gift giving is not a financial option, greed can rear its ugly head. If you've ever been part of a community Christmas giving event, you've probably encountered people who sign up for gifts who don't need the help, or people who receive gifts from multiple agencies, or people who complain about the quality or quantity of the gifts, food, donations they receive. This can be disheartening and so aggravating (at least for me it is!).

When I'm frustrated by the lack of gratefulness or the shameless greed I see, I take a look at myself. What's on my Christmas wish list? Am I content with what I have or am I always looking for an upgrade? Do I spend more time and energy adding to my closet or meeting the tangible needs of others? It's easy to get caught-up in shiny baubles and fancy new tech, but if our hearts are turned to those things instead of the Savior, we are missing the point of the season.

Matthew 6:32

For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,

and all these things will be given to you as well.

God promises to meet our every need; not our every greed. If we will make His kingdom our priority and our business, He will work it out for our good.

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