It was with interest that I read this extract some time ago from an email circular letter from Dr. Mike Evans “I was stunned to read that one out of five people in Israel today cannot afford to buy enough food for themselves and their families. Even worse, one in ten is suffering physical symptoms due to malnutrition. This is tragic! At a time when most of us are trying to lose weight, there are thousands of Jewish men, women, and children going to bed hungry every night.” But, the sad story today in many western countries is that not only are people overweight, but in other aspects and realms they have too much.
A recent survey has determined that our spending power will decrease as inflation rises and, whereas in 2009 the free money after paying necessary bills in the average household was £637 per month, it was £590 in 2012 and not until 2015 will it rise to £606. Our living standards are falling, but perhaps they were too high anyhow. Many visitors find British standards of living higher than where they came from, and would of inclination want to stay and be part of that standard; why not, it’s part of human nature to want more. The more we have the more we want. God gave Adam and Eve all the trees in the garden but one, and Eve wanted the forbidden one, nothing has changed.
I once read an article where four sets of parents were interviewed about buying Christmas presents for their children. The respective values ranged from £750 to £50 per child. Why spend £750 on a one-year old child; sometimes there is a suggestion of senseless spending. Giving gifts is a human attribute, and we all like to bestow on those we love a token of our affection. Unfortunately however, some people are pressured by their peers, to adopt a universal standard of generosity which they can’t afford.
The world system tells us what we should give, and designs our presents for us and encourages us to go into debt to ensure we give, in their opinion, rightfully. Perhaps this year because of lack of money many people will use common sense and restraint in giving presents! The way to instil wisdom over the use of money is to have none; it’s the best teacher in the business. I came out of a generation that often made gifts because we couldn’t afford to buy any. We didn’t expect much and therefore were not disappointed and appreciated what little we did get.
My home is patterned by drawings and paintings by my two sons who did their best with their skill during their university time and afterwards to give us something of worth at Christmas time. These pictures take pride of place in the entrance hall so those who enter can see the value we place on them; they may not be a Rembrandt or Van Gogh, but they are to us. They gave us something out of their penury: their time was more valuable. It was
the thought that went into the gift that is supreme in our eyes. They are gifts that will become heirlooms of their youth and care. It seems to me that the appreciation of small things has been lost in the rush for more and more. Bigger and costlier need not be better.
The greatest gifts cannot be bought and are not manufactured except in the grinding mills of life. What we give of ourselves in thoughtful love will be retained for a lifetime. Expensive man-made objects will be superseded, replaced, break and deteriorate, but often the small and almost insignificant personal gift of time and skill will be found in the storage chambers of life, retained, revalued, saved, guarded and kept while life lasts. IPhones, iPods and iPads will be overtaken by better designs, and previous models forgotten, but the pictures on our walls will be symbols of youthful love of the highest order. As we age with time these tokens of generosity will remain unsullied by the years, but the wealth of speculative gifts will be soon forgotten and destined for the trash bin.
The greatest gift was Jesus, God gave of himself, and we must do likewise. He grows more precious with the years, all other gifts pale at His august presence and everlasting love with eternal forgiveness. What better gift than life – “because He lives I can face tomorrow” for now we live because he does? The bonus system has been ingrained into British culture; every month a Christmas Day, but every day with Jesus is a high day – an eternal gift of love and acceptance, what more could we possibly want?