December 12, 2018
Christmas is just around the corner, and it’s usually that time of the year when we suddenly get a bunch of extra cash, also known as “aguinaldo.” Yey! The Collins Dictionary defines aguinaldo as a Christmas box, a Christmas bonus, or a Christmas carol. Here in the Philippines, we usually know it as cash gifts from parents, godparents, and other relatives. We also know Aguinaldo as a highly-debated and conflicted historical figure brilliantly played by Mon Confiado (in Heneral Luna and Goyo), but that’s not our topic for today.
WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT THIS?
Now, I hope money’s not the first thing we think of or look forward to when it comes to Christmas, but it is important to talk about how we can be good stewards of our napamaskuhan. God looks at how we use the money that He entrusts to us.
First, He looks at where our heart is. Matthew 6:21 reminds us that where our money goes shows what we truly value. Second, He checks if we can be responsible with what He gives us. Luke 16:10 tells us that if we can be trusted with little, then we can be trusted with more. How we use our aguinaldo can be an exercise of faithfulness and stewardship.
Also, practically speaking, we want to avoid spending it all immediately on things that don’t last, or depositing it in a bank with virtually zero growth to eventually be spent on things that don’t last. Luke 16 shows us that the faithful servants grew what was entrusted to them and they were commended for that.
With that in mind, how can we make the most of our aguinaldo? Here are our suggestions.
It’s often said that Christmas is a season for giving, so let’s start with that. We have to remember that we are always blessed for a purpose—we are blessed to be a blessing. We’re called to be channels of provision for the people around us. The flow of blessing stops when it stops with us.
Think of it this way. Going from South to North in Metro Manila, there are two main avenues—EDSA and C.P. Garcia* (a.k.a. C5). If there’s a bottleneck in one avenue, cars will naturally go where the there’s a better flow. In the same way, God looks to bless people who don’t act like traffic bottlenecks but will ensure that the blessing keeps flowing through them—people who are generous and have the heart to give.
So where or how can we give? Let’s start with offering back to God out of a grateful heart. Then, take a look around. You could start with your family. Is there any way you could bless them? Maybe you could get some new appliances to replace old ones, like a rice cooker, an electric fan, or a toaster.
Try asking God as well. Are there any causes you want to give to? Maybe you can donate to a nearby children’s home, an NGO you really love, or the missions fund of your church. There are many causes we can support and be a part of. It may be overwhelming, but we can start where we are.
As C.S. Lewis put it, “God may call any one of us to respond to some far away problem or support those who have been so called. But we are finite and he will not call us everywhere or to support every worthy cause. And real needs are not far from us.”
As we do this, we ensure that what we get this Christmas doesn’t just go to some temporary object, but it can be used by God to impact lives, communities, nations, and even eternity. That’s what Jesus meant in Matthew 6 when He said that we ought to store treasures in heaven.
We’re never too young to start saving and investing. The sooner you start, the better. Promise. As a single professional, I wish I had started investing earlier. The “post-baon life” costs way more than “student life” so do your future self a favor and start investing. Being responsible with the money entrusted to us means investing with the future in mind.
We won’t go into too much detail on the hows but we encourage you to put your money where it can come back with returns, somewhere that’s not as accessible as an ATM account. You can check out mutual funds, stocks, cooperatives, government bonds, etc. You could even consider starting up a business. It’s a lot easier now especially with readily available online platforms. Whatever you decide, get advice from someone who’s familiar with these things.
Lastly, enjoy what you get. Leave a part of what you receive for stuff you want—something you’ve always wanted to buy, a road trip you’ve always wanted to go on, anything really. God isn’t against fun or enjoyment, in fact, He delights in blessing us. As James 1:17 says that every good and perfect thing is from above, coming down from the Father of lights. So after you’ve given and set aside money to invest, go and enjoy what God has given you.
What about the proportions? How much should I give, invest, and enjoy? It’s really up to you. You could split your aguinaldo into thirds or maybe 40-40-20. It’s really your call. You could pray and ask God about it. What matters is the heart.
In summary, whatever amount of aguinaldo you get this Christmas, don’t forget the principles of stewardship, generosity, and being blessed to be a blessing. Have a great Christmas, everyone!
*Contrary to popular belief, C.P. actually stands for Carlos Polestico, and not C-Payb.