It’s the last week of the year. And that means many people have the opportunity to make year-end contributions for maximum tax benefits. And we enjoyed more gingerbread cookies and pecan pie than our bodies needed, so it’s time to get serious about caring for our health. And we have more possessions than we need, maybe even new piles we got for Christmas, so we need to clean out some stuff. Does any of that describe you? If so, plan to take ten minutes with technology turned off to focus, making measurable good plans to benefit yourself and others.
- Start with prayer. Ask, “Lord, help me to steward well all that you’ve given me—my cash, my body, my things. Thank you for so much abundance. Please grant me wisdom.”
- Think about money. Give thanks for what you have. Did you get a bonus or Christmas cash? Do you have stock that did well in 2020? If so, how should you spend some or all of it? Or should you save it? What debt can you whittle away? Whom can you bless? Write the year-end check or make the Venmo transfer or go to the online site of your favorite charity and bless others.
- Care for your body. COVID has made it tough to do a lot of gym time. But you can walk the dog. Rake leaves. Even walk in circles in your own living space. Look at your cupboards and fridge. What will tempt you? What can you give away? What can you share? What can go in the freezer? If you had to make one change this month for healthier living, what would it be? Do you need to drink more water? Do you need to make fasting a habit in the new year? Ask a friend to hold you accountable? While you’re at it, think about your soul. Do you have a Bible reading or listening plan for the next year? Need to order or download anything to get ready?
- Make a list of who should receive a thank-you note from you for something you received. And make a plan to reduce your hold on stuff. Doing so is good for us (see Matt. 6:19–20). Hold a garage sale or figure out who has a drop-off location where you can take donations. Some organizations or individuals would love to benefit from your treasures. Also, how can you serve your church by helping purge things stuffed in closets over which you have jurisdiction?
Literature. “Love Packages” recycles Bibles, Sunday school materials, VBS literature, and tracts. The organization fuels international outreaches and sends the gospel to the ends of the earth by putting Christian literature in the hands of people around the world. Ship yours to Love Packages, 220 Union Street, Butler, IL 62015. You can send items “media mail” for deep discounts on book shipping. Does your church have a library? Look around for books to donate.
Coats, blankets, and socks. Especially this time of year, our unhoused neighbors shiver in the cold. Your used coats and jackets, especially in large men’s sizes, along with blankets of any size meet an urgent need. Check with your favorite ministry to the homeless for drop-off locations.
Technology. Look around for technology you rarely use. Some electronics stores pay for phones—giving more cash for items with cords and no personalization. Tech items to recycle may also include televisions, monitors, computers, computer peripherals, audio and stereo equipment, VCRs, DVD players, video cameras, telephones, facsimiles, copying machines, wireless devices, and video game consoles. The stores dispose of the items cleanly. You may make no money, but you care for God’s earth responsibly. Some charities also love receiving used phones, some of which benefit our troops. A simple Google search will help you find out more.
Eyeglasses and sunglasses. Do drug-store reading glasses and non-prescription sunglasses in good condition clutter your tables, purse, or “glove compartment”? People living near the equator need glasses and sunglasses for adults and kids, prescription or non. Safety goggles, too. Many Wal-Mart vision centers have drop boxes. Or grab a padded envelope and send your used glasses to New Eyes for the Needy, 549 Millburn Avenue, Short Hills, NJ 07078.
Fabric. Finally facing that you’ll never sew that stack of fabric? If you like to sew or know a friend who does, homeless shelters have never-ending needs for new pillowcases, and Pregnancy Resource Centers need new baby quilts for clients. Soup kitchens need potholders, too.
Living with excess or even living with little while longing for “more, more, more” harms us. “It’s better to give than receive.” So ask the Holy Spirit to help you see how you can live more generously.