Dear Rev. Graham: My husband lost his job recently and we really can’t afford to give people as much for Christmas this year as we have in the past. But I’m afraid we’ll offend them if we cut back too much. I know this isn’t a spiritual question, but how should we handle this?
Dear reader: I know this doesn’t seem like a spiritual question to you, but in reality God is concerned about everything we’re concerned about – including what we’ll give to others at Christmas. He loves us, and just as parents are concerned about every detail of their child’s life, so God is concerned about every detail of our lives as His children.
What should you do? First, let’s be clear about what you shouldn’t do: Don’t go into debt or spend money you can’t afford to spend. Frankly, if someone is offended because you don’t provide a lavish gift this year, then I doubt if the person is really your friend. True friendship isn’t something you can buy with a gift, no matter how big or small it is. In the midst of his suffering, Job declared, "A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends" (Job 6:14).
Perhaps a brief note with some gifts might be in order, saying that although you’ve had to cut back this year because of your husband’s situation, you value their friendship and still wanted to remember them. Everyone knows we’re living in difficult times, and people should be grateful for your honesty and thoughtfulness.
Most of all, may you and your family reflect this year on the greatest Christmas gift of all – the gift of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. The Bible says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).