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Ask Chuck: Generosity and priorities at Christmas

Ask Chuck your money question

Dear Chuck,

Christmas is my favorite holiday because of the focus on giving. My husband and I want to be extra generous with our four children, our church and our favorite ministries. We have a budget of $3,000 for all of these. Can you help us set priorities?

Establishing Our Priorities for Christmas Giving

Dear Establishing Priorities,

Unsplash/Kari Shea
Unsplash/Kari Shea

First, I am grateful for your focus on being generous. Christmas is a heartwarming reminder of the generosity of those who worshiped Christ at His miraculous birth. Tis the season for giving!

The challenge with your question is my lack of context. I have no idea how much you have given your children, church, or favorite ministries throughout the year. With that understanding, I will answer your question about how to prioritize the three categories so you and your husband can determine the amounts. Starting with a working definition of giving as a tangible expression of love, let’s examine all the ways that you can love extravagantly this Christmas.

Giving priorities

Giving to your children

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8 ESV).

I recommend that you make the children your priority for demonstrating generosity this Christmas. They want/need to see your commitment to their needs and wants on par or greater than they see it shown to others. However, that may be done without spending lots of money. Let me give you a few ideas.

Align giving and their love language. Gary Chapman surveyed a group of adults and found the five most common love languages:

  • Words of Affirmation: 23%
  • Quality Time: 20%
  • Acts of Service: 20%
  • Physical Touch: 19%
  • Receiving Gifts: 18%

You may discover your children’s dominant love languages through simple observation, or you may need the book to go through the questions with each one individually. Knowing each child’s love language will enable you to connect with them on a deeper level.

Upon confirmation, ask the Lord for creativity to come up with a custom gift that speaks their language. For the “Quality Time” child, the gift may be a day alone with both parents doing a favorite activity together. For the “Words of Affirmation” child, you could record friends’ and family’s love and praise in a short video, journal, or frame — and so forth. You get the idea.

Another method involves interviewing them with questions without giving away your intentions.

What has been your best Christmas ever? Why? What is your hope or dream for this Christmas?

The costs of gifts do not have to be equal, but the thoughtful expression of your love should be.

Giving to your Church and favorite ministries

“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce …” (Proverbs 3:9a ESV).

Assuming that you consistently support your church and favorite ministries throughout the year, there is no requirement to do more. However, if moved to demonstrate your love for Jesus during this season, the Bible offers principles to guide you in setting priorities:

1. Giving should be premeditated (2 Corinthians 9:7).

This means giving is not a spontaneous or emotional reaction but a prayerful decision on where and how much to invest in God’s work.

2. Giving should be proportional to your income (1 Corinthians 16:2).

While we should give sacrificially to accomplish Kingdom work, it is the consistent, steady giving over time that has the greatest cumulative impact. Pray together and seek unity on the amount.

3. Giving should support those teaching God’s Word (1 Timothy 5:17).

Many wonderful nonprofits do great work, but as Christians, our priority is first supporting a Bible-believing church and then God-glorifying ministries. Avoid giving where you cannot verify a group’s validity. Many people are scammed at Christmas by fake charities.

4. Giving should help the poor and suffering (Matthew 25:34-45).

Jesus, the greatest gift and the greatest giver in the history of the world, will separate the generous and selfish by their tangible love to the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick, and imprisoned. Be sure that some of your giving is toward those who are suffering.

5. Giving should be done with joy (2 Corinthians 9:7).

It is our privilege to represent His love and kindness to others. He wants us to do so cheerfully and not under pressure, as if paying a tax. Giving is actually better for us than it is for the receiver!

It is not my job to allocate your giving budget; however, these principles can help you and your husband unite your hearts. I am grateful that you are avoiding holiday debt and seeking help to be generous vessels of God’s love this Christmas.

Do you want more tools and tips regarding Biblical financial principles and purposes? Are you interested in receiving ministry updates from around the world? Sign up to receive the Crown Newsletter emails by using the form on the homepage at Crown.org.

Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, a global Christian ministry, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Economic Evidence for God?. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.

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