Today is Black Friday. Ready, set, go!

Does it seem to you that this thing of giving Christmas gifts has gotten a little out of hand? I don’t want to sound like a Grinch, but it feels like the expectation of giving a gift to everyone with whom you have any contact has gotten stronger over the last few years. For many of the people on your list the gift doesn’t have to be very large — you know, just something to let them know you’re thinking about them “at this special time of the year.” But then you still have to figure out what that little something is going to be.

I can help you with that. This year, in lieu of the scented candle, the boxed set of teas from around the world, or the homemade cookies, why don’t you give a gift to global missions in their honor? Total up all of the money you would spend on gifts for people outside your closest circle, add to that amount the generous gift you were going to give to global missions anyway, and write a check. Send everyone a card letting them know you’re giving in their honor. For a second they may miss the gift; for a long time they will appreciate what you did with the money instead.

Our offering this year goes to support Cooperative Baptist missionaries around the world, to help underwrite the expenses involved with our 2019 mission trip to Bolivia, and to assist our own Kristy Engel in her very important work in medical missions with the American Baptist International Mission.

These are all incredibly worthy causes. They all make good use of every penny they receive. And they all would be more effective if they were better supported financially. What will happen with your money will be far better than what your cousin is going to do with the cute mug you were going to give him.

And while you’re at it, pray. Pray for those people in whose honor you’re going to give. Pray you have a closer relationship next year than you did this year and that they know they are loved. Pray for the important missions that you will be supporting. Pray that our missionaries will be encouraged by your support, both prayer and financial. Pray that this will be a season when peace on earth and good will among people will become more of a reality.

Those are better ways of spending your time and money than shopping.