The mall seemed huge to me when I was a little boy! So you can imagine my excitement when my parents allowed us walk around on our own so we could find just the right gifts without them around. As I walked through the mall I came to a store called “Wicks and Sticks.” It was a candle shop, and the smell was amazing. They had candles in all shapes and sizes, but a candle in the shape of a Dallas Cowboy football player caught my eye immediately. My Dad loved the Cowboys! I remember thinking “that is the perfect gift for my dad!!” I was so pumped! I shook with anticipation as I paid and the lady put the candle in the bag, and it was only $5.99, so I had like $14 to buy the rest of my gifts!! Doesn’t take much when you are a kid does it?
A friend of mine sent me a verse this morning.
“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25
As I look back on that moment in my life, I know now that it was actually a very difficult time for me and our family. A few years later, my parents would actually get a divorce, but I can see that God was doing something much bigger in me the day I found those presents. It’s seared into my memory. Something leaped inside of me. I was energized! Nothing else mattered! I sensed and felt something so powerful. I didn’t know it then, but I know now that it was the Spirit of the Living God. I was walking in the Spirit that day as a young believer as I considered others above myself. I was being refreshed in a very difficult time as a child. I was refreshed by the generosity of my parents, even though they were struggling themselves, as they took my sister and I on that trip to search and pick out gifts for them at the Mall, and I was also refreshed as God began teaching me the power of generosity.
Look at this beautiful definition of the word generous, “to be liberal in giving or sharing; unselfish: free from meanness or smallness of mind or character.”
That describes perfectly what God was saying through King Solomon when he wrote Proverbs 11. Don’t be small minded. Don’t be selfish. Don’t be mean. Don’t be phony. Choose to live an authentic life by refusing to walk according to your feelings & the flesh. Listen to the right voice. The voice of the most generous and greatest gift giver EVER; God your Heavenly Father through the Holy Spirit within you. Paul talked about that in Galatians 5:16-17,
“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.”
If we are honest, we have to acknowledge that Christmas can sadly be filled with way to many phony moments in our families. Many of us approach the holidays with dread and sadness instead of hope and love. We buy or make gifts, and give them with a smile on our face but hurt & anger in our hearts. Others of us have gifts to give, but we give them hoping that maybe we can win the love and affection of those we care for or maybe even change our or their circumstances. You know what God is showing me? That’s not generosity. Trust me; this is one of those HARD lessons to learn. Our motives matter! Why do we do what we do? I’ve lived with a “small mind,” thinking that there was actually something I could do, give, or say to change things. That isn’t the “lesson of the Mall” God was trying to show me when I was a boy.
That day at the mall I didn’t think about changing anything. I didn’t have anger in my heart. I wasn’t seeking some type of approval. I just wanted to give a great gift because I loved my family, and the result was peace and true joy. That is exactly what God the Father did for mankind. He gave the best gift ever, His Son Jesus Christ, and the result is eternal life, unending joy & peace. Why would He do that? Because He loves us and that is what He experiences! He wants us to experience what He experiences. Love and Love alone is what motivated His generosity to us. Love is also what motivated Jesus to obey and fulfill the will of His Father when He gave His life for mankind. Look at what Jesus said in John 15:9-13,
“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
I am so blessed to have a wife and specific people around me that truly exemplify this truth, as well as others that have given to me and my family with this Spirit & mindset. I desire to live out this truth in my life this Christmas more than ever before. I desire to yield my life to the will of the Father, and realize that nothing I have is mine to hoard or hold on to. I desire to walk a life of generosity like Jesus. To love freely, give often of whatever I have, and obediently offer refreshment to others as I am refreshed by the Spirit of the Living God within me. To walk, as I did that day as a boy, with my feet almost floating off the ground as I know in my heart I am a part of something way bigger than me. That is the call God has given weDIGit Ministries & our family, and it is my Christmas wish and desire as we walk into 2014.
Can I share what a little of what that looks like for myself, Donna, and our family? It means that we want to hear the Spirit’s voice above all other voices, as we walk, drive, and live out each day. It means to find joy paying for the person behind us in the drive through & never wonder when someone will do the same thing for us. It means that we will hear the Spirit’s voice when He tells us to give to someone specifically without fearfully considering how it will affect our budget. It means that we will walk daily watching for God’s hand around us through a scripture, a conversation, a phone call, or even a song, Facebook post, tweet, and any moment we are led together or individually to help someone else by giving whatever God calls us to give we will do it. You see, that’s the “lesson of the mall,” and I pray this lesson blesses you today as much as it has blessed me while I’ve written it. I pray it impacts us all deeply this Holiday Season & everyday as we enter a New Year together.
I wish for you & your family Blessings, Love, & A Great Cafeteria Meal from our home to yours this Holiday Season!