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Going “Over” at Christmas

December 1, 2019

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. ~ Romans 12:2 (NIV)

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. ~ 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NIV)

Navigating the many temptations of the holidays can be a challenge. It’s a time when a lot of people go “over;” many overspend, overeat, overload schedules, and miss out on all that makes this time of year so meaningful.

Surveys conducted right after the holidays indicate that many people wished they hadn’t spent so much money and so much time shopping for gifts. Rather, many wished they had spent more time with family and friends and reflecting on the spiritual significance of the holidays.

To get it right this holiday season, a little willpower training may be in order.

External controls are an important technique for such willpower training. If you know that credit cards make it all too easy for you to overspend, take your credit cards out of your wallet or purse and opt for an all-cash or all-debit card Christmas this year. When using cash, you may become more aware of how your money is spent.

Another technique is to decide what you will do in certain situations before you get in the situation. For example, before you start receiving invitations to this or that holiday event, look at your calendar and reserve certain days or weekends for family time.

I find that advice to be especially helpful. When my wife, Jude, and I were training for a half-marathon years ago, it was much easier to run on days that I had designated in advance as training days. If I had waited until the actual day to decide whether to run, I know there were many times when I would have taken the day off, especially if one of our kids had kept us up the previous night.

One final note about preparing for this year’s holiday season, it’s still not too late to come up with a gift budget. Perhaps a simple form will help you avoid overspending.

If we’re going to go over on anything, let’s go over on our worship. Let our focus be on the greatest gift – the birth of Jesus!

What are you doing to prepare for a financially, emotionally, and spiritually balanced holiday season this year?

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