David Platt warns Christians not to 'exalt gifts over the giver' this Christmas

David Platt, pastor of McLean Bible Church near Washington, D.C., and founder of Radical, a resource ministry that serves churches. | Baptist Press/Adam Covington

Pastor and author David Platt has urged Christians to fight consumerism this Christmas by enjoying God and proclaiming His name and glory to a lost world. 

In a recent video for The Gospel Coalition website, Platt, pastor of McLean Bible Church in Virginia, stressed that all humans are “prone in our sinful hearts to exalt gifts over the giver, to enjoy gifts more than we enjoy the giver.”

“This is, in a sense, the essence of idolatry in our hearts, to exalt good things over God,” he said. “If we're not careful, that's exactly what consumerism can do, especially when it comes to Christmas and we're just immersed in thinking about gifts and receiving gifts and giving gifts. If we're not careful, if we're not guarding our hearts, every step of the way, we can begin to focus a lot more on gifts and a lot less on the giver.”

To fight consumerism, especially at Christmas, Platt encouraged Christians to “keep zealous focus on God as the giver of all gifts; proclaim God as the giver of the greatest gift in Christ; worship God; and spend all the more time in prayer before God, exalting Him as the giver of everything we enjoy as good.”

“We live in a world where so many people don't have faith in Jesus, and 2 to 3 billion people have little to no knowledge of Jesus,” the pastor stressed. “If we're not careful, we can spend our time, our energy, our money on things in this world instead of spending our time and our energy, and our money on spreading the Gospel in this world, on sharing the greatest news that people need to hear right around us and far from us who've never heard it.”

Platt, who's also the founder of Radical, a resource ministry that serves churches, said that in our zeal to give and receive gifts — “even all the good ways that reflect God's grace for God's glory” — believers must strive to “guard our hearts and minds, so that we're focused on the greatest gift, Christ, and making Him known... in places where He's never been heard.”

“Consumerism is not going to drive us in those ways,” he said. “So let's fight consumerism, with evangelism, with proclamation of the Gospel, and with mission, with working for the spread of the Gospel to the ends of the Earth.”

“Fight consumerism in our hearts by enjoying God and proclaiming His glory right around us and the ends of the Earth,” he concluded.

The consumerism that marks the holidays in the United States is no secret. In 2014, Americans spent $57.4 billion on Black Friday weekend alone. In contrast, they gave $103 billion to churches that same year. 

Surveys also suggest that fewer people have given to charities in 2020 than in past years, even at a time when more people are in need of help because of COVID-19’s economic impact.

In an interview with The Christian Post, actress and outspoken Christian Alexa PenaVega shared how her family makes charitable giving a Christmas tradition. This year, she and her husband, Carlos, and their two young sons, Ocean and Kingston, partnered with The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program to buy gifts for underprivileged children. 

“We went to Walmart as a family, and Ocean pulled names off the tree, and then we went shopping together and picked out toys for different kids,” she recalled. “Then at the very end, he went and put money in the kettle. It was so fun for us as a family and also a great way for parents to start introducing their kids to what giving means, especially over the holiday season.”

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