December 3, 2019
It was a beautiful fall day, mid-60s and sunny. As I walked around outside I took a few minutes to calm my mind and just listen to God.
I wish I could say I do this often, but it was an exercise I was asked to do and I reluctantly complied. The topic I pondered was generosity. It’s that time of the year after all when we think about what we’re thankful for and contemplate God’s ultimate gift that came at Christmas.
As I walked and listened I thought about my selfish nature, how I hold things with a tight fist and how I desperately wanted freedom from the anxiety that comes with that mentality.
I told God I wanted everything I have to be His and I was willing to give up whatever He asked. That’s always a dangerous prayer.
At that moment God asked me to give up the Apple Watch.
My old watch had died a few months ago and with finances tight I wasn’t willing to spend the money to buy a new one. But now the Apple Watch 3 was going on sale for Black Friday.
‘Give it up’
My wife and I have been married long enough that there aren’t many surprises when it comes to Christmas gifts so I told her that’s what I wanted. And it was on sale for $130 — not bad right? But now God was asking me to give it up and give that money away.
Why would He do that?
I don’t think it had anything to do with the price tag. We are blessed and $130 won’t change much in our lives. It was about my attitude related to the watch.
I had researched this watch. I had stalked the online sites. I was thinking about how nice it would be to have one again. Basically I was coveting this possession and it wasn’t healthy. I knew He wouldn’t let go of me unless I gave in.
Once I conceded I asked, “What do I do with this money?”
Many things came to mind. It could be my church or struggling families I knew or even great Baptist causes in our state, but nothing clicked. I felt God telling me to open Instagram and look at the first picture that came up (God can even use Instagram for good).
The first picture I saw was that of the editor of The Alabama Baptist with a group of people in her office.
“You want me to give this money to TAB?” I asked. No that wasn’t it. God wanted me to share my story.
I was scared and nervous, but I did what He asked me to do. And what a moment of joy, peace and complete fulfillment to be part of what God is doing, to know without a shadow of a doubt what He was asking me to do and to follow through and do it.
It was a moment of immediate freedom. I didn’t have to research that thing anymore. I didn’t have to consider the lines on Black Friday. I’m free to focus on God and others.
This is where you come in, readers.
Why can’t we all do this? This wasn’t about the monetary value, it was about giving up something I covet, the watch, for something I covet more, closeness to God.
Generosity is not about the gift or even who receives it. Giving is for the giver. It changes the longings of our heart and can remove greed and selfishness if practiced often.
I may never own a smart watch again. Or maybe God will work something else out and I will. Ultimately it doesn’t matter because God is getting what He wants from me — my heart and my obedience.
Let me invite you to participate. What is that one particular gift you really want for Christmas?
Maybe it’s not what you want for yourself but a gift you want to give.
We like to think of ourselves as generous when we give gifts to other people but often we are seeking their approval or affection. Can you give that up to God and see what He does?
The money I would have spent on the watch will now go to my church because I want to be a part of the vision God has given us. And the obedience in telling my story is what you are reading here.
Lifestyle of generosity
Maybe you want to give to your church, to TAB, to the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries or to someone you know who really needs it. It’s important to whom you give but not as important as your willingness to give.
This isn’t a fun one-time Christmas promotion — this is a lifestyle. It’s a reminder of the One who gave you everything, who owns everything and who desires all of you.
So definitely give. And tell us your story so we can share what God is doing. Tell us what you’re giving up, who you are giving to and what God does when you do.
Can you imagine the excitement when you see the upcoming issues of The Alabama Baptist where Christians across the state are sharing their stories of how God is speaking to them?
I can’t wait!
EDITOR’S NOTE — The author works for an Alabama Baptist entity and asked to remain anonymous.