“Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.” – Deuteronomy 8:11-20ESV
In 2018, Americans are predicted to spend an over of $887 per person (not per household) on Christmas gifts, and actual spending is usually higher than the predictions (Haury, 2018). In Arvada, CO, where our church is located, the median income for 2016 was just over $70,000 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2016). Just a year earlier, the average household income for the entire world was $17,760 (Muggeridge, 2015). In fact, in 2013, at least 80 percent of the world was living on less than $10 a day, which translates to less than $3,650 a year (Shah, 2013).
The moral of the story? No…it’s not shame on Americans for having money when other people in the world are poor. Rather… if you are an American, no matter your circumstances, you have been given so much. You are incredibly blessed. We live in a nation of unprecedented wealth, where even those at the poverty line are among the top 14 percent richest people in the world (Blair, 2011).
And in America…there are plenty of places to spend that money. We can buy a designer dog or cat that costs almost as much as the entire yearly income of the poorest in the world. The average new car price in America in 2018 was $36,270 (Nicolai & Buehler, 2018). Even a latte is over $4 a cup, which again, is at least half the daily income of the poorest in the world.
And with wealth…it’s easy to forget to whom we owe all things. God knew that about the Israelites as they prepared to enter the Promised Land after over four-hundred years of slavery in Egypt and forty years of wandering the desert. They were going to go from from former slaves and homeless wanderers, to living in a paradise in their own kingdom. As their fields grew and their animals multiplied, God knew the temptation would be to sit back and say, “Look what I have accomplished.” Against that temptation, God said, “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth…”
As you enter the Christmas season, hunting down those perfect gifts, buying new decorations for the house and the ingredients for special meals…don’t forget from Whom those dollars come. Don’t forget Who has made it possible for you to own that home, have that family, see those sights. Don’t forget the One for whom the lights sparkle. Don’t forget the Gift the gifts point to. When Silent Night comes on the radio, or you single along to Noel, don’t forget He for Whom the songs were written came into the world to a poor man and woman in a cave on a cold spring night. He came to bless the world with Himself. With Hope. With Purpose. With Love. With Truth…
So as you rush around this Christmas season, remember our Lord. In your blessings remember the blessing He first gave. And then be that blessing with the blessings He has provided.
- On a piece of paper, list out all the blessings God has provided for you. Get really detailed.
- Spend some time in prayer, thanking God for this list of gifts. Think of it like the big hug you give someone you love when they’ve given you exactly what you wanted for Christmas.
- What are some of the reasons why you forget all the good God has done for you?
- Challenge for the Week: At the end of each day, make a list of all the blessings in the day God provided. Then once a week, find a way to be a blessing to someone else.
Haury, A. C. (2018, November 8). Average cost of an American Christmas. Investopedia. Retrieved from https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/1112/average-cost-of-an-american-christmas.aspx
Muggeridge, P. (2015, June 23). What is the average wage around the world? World Economic Forum. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/06/what-is-the-average-wage-around-the-world/
Nicolai, A. & Buehler, B. (2018). Press releases: Average new-car prices rise nearly 4 percent for January 2018 on shifting sales mix, according to Kelley Blue Book. Kelley Blue Book. Retrieved from https://mediaroom.kbb.com/2018-02-01-Average-New-Car-Prices-Rise-Nearly-4-Percent-For-January-2018-On-Shifting-Sales-Mix-According-To-Kelley-Blue-Book
Shah, A. (2013, January 7). Poverty facts and stats. Global Issues. Retrieved from http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats
U.S. Census Bureau. (2016). Data USA: Arvada, CO. Retrieved from https://datausa.io/profile/geo/arvada-co/#category_wages