I sat by the window, musing. Money was tight. The birthdays of my two closest friends were fast-approaching. These beautiful women had walked with me through almost twenty years, with all their hills and valleys. I wanted their birthday gifts to reflect my appreciation. A sigh slipped through my lips. What can I give them, Lord?
Immediately I heard a voice in my head:
Use what you have.
Use what I have? I’d heard that before. What did it mean for me? What did I have, anyway?
Instantly my eyes were opened. Our home was bulging with items that could be used to make gifts. Fabric. Food. Plants. Paint. Everywhere I looked, there were possibilities. We weren’t limited by finance, as I’d thought. We were rich!
Inspired, I poured myself into creating presents for my friends – special, tailor-made gifts that I knew they’d use. This was the beginning of a lifestyle which has continued over many years.
Then, just a few weeks ago, I was mulling over some verses at the end of Acts chapter 4. You know the ones – about all the believers living like a community, with everything in common?
“No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,” it says in verse 32, “but they shared everything they had.” Later it reads, “There were no needy persons among them.”
No needy persons.
Can you imagine us living like that today?
Those few sentences had me squirming. Was I willing to share everything? Probably not. I liked my stuff. The thought of parting with it was frightening. But I knew something needed to change.
Lord, grow me in using the money you give us. How does this principle work in our culture? A scary prayer, spoken in the knowledge I may not like the answer.
The response I felt Him speak surprised me:
‘Use what you have’ can have two levels of meaning. There was that phrase again!
On one hand it means, ‘be resourceful and enjoy the full benefits of what I’ve provided for you.’
On another level it means, ‘use everything I’ve blessed you with to be a blessing to others.’ Don’t hold back. Even as you embrace and enjoy My gifts, be open to sharing them with others. As you do, you’ll discover even more pleasure in My bounty, far more than if you keep it all to yourself.
Everything we have has been given by God with both us and others in mind. He wants us to use the resources He’s given both for our own needs and to enrich the lives of the people around us. When we clutch and grab, not only are we withholding blessing from others, we are also robbing ourselves of the pleasure of sharing.
Who knows how much enjoyment we’ve missed by keeping our goodies all to ourselves?
Imagine giving one of your children a gift, chosen with love and beautifully wrapped, only to find five years later that they’d never, ever used it. Instead it sat in a dark corner, slowly deteriorating and becoming covered in cobwebs. What a waste.
I had to ask myself, “What am I not using the way it was intended?”
My life is changing. I’m inviting more people into our home. Each day I see new opportunities to give from what I have, whether it’s time, money, words, prayers or encouragement. God has showered my life with His goodness. I want to bring Him pleasure by using everything He’s given me the way He intended. In the process, my days are becoming fuller, richer and more thankful.
How about you? Are you using what you’ve been given?