Measure of the Heart
Dr. Doug Posey
If I say, “The Happiest Place on Earth,” what comes to mind? Disneyland, of course. What makes it happy? From personal experience, I can say it consists of giving the park ever-increasing sums—large sums—of cash for the opportunity to utilize their facilities for a day, or so, escaping from the real world, enjoying the various attractions, rides, restaurants and shops, many of which cost additional large sums of money. One can only live this way for short periods of time; not too often and remain sane. After too much Disneyland, happiness gives way to insanity. Having done this an inordinate number of times in my life—too many times as a youth pastor—I no longer refer to it as an amusement park, but an “abuse-ment park.”
Ironically, for many, if they suddenly found themselves with unlimited funds, they would seek something something akin to a Disneyland existence; a life of self-indulgence. Indeed, we’ve heard the stories of lottery winners who have done just that and have found it’s not so happy. We weren’t meant to consistently self-indulge, no matter how blessed we are with abundance. In fact, though we may not be millionaires, we are highly fortunate for the most part, as long as we have incomes, the ability to work, anything to give, regardless of the sacrifice involved. Haven’t you ever noticed that the happiest people are the most giving? Often they are in parts of the world where they have the least to give.
Erwin W. Lutzer, author and pastor, wrote, “Those who give much without sacrifice are reckoned as having given little.” Many people will give and even give very generously, as long as they can be recognized and rewarded for their giving. Anything from a pat-on-the-back, to a plaque prominently placed in their honor, will motivate them to give. But, how many will give when it means little more than sacrificing something, even at great cost, and receiving virtually nothing in return, at least not in this world? You’ve likely rarely even heard of those people. But, that’s the point.
Human nature leads us to calculate how we might participate in giving without really giving up anything significant. “How can I appear giving without making it uncomfortable for me?” we may ask. As a result, giving becomes anything but sacrificial. Then the gifts of most givers, whether they be time or treasure, consist only of expendable leftovers, the release of which are certain to cause no discomfort. Painless giving becomes the goal. Painless giving is better than no giving, but where would we be without those who have suffered much in their extreme acts of generosity?
Motivation affects giving. To what (or whom) are you giving and how strong are your emotional ties to the beneficiary(s) of your generosity? These questions help determine your willingness to be openhanded. Giving to your own kids, or grandkids, comes with a built-in motivation to be generous. Giving is a measure of one’s heart in relation to the recipient. It follows that if one gives little or nothing to God, though he or she might say he or she has a high regard for the Almighty, the extent of one’s generosity; one’s sacrificial giving toward God, speaks louder than words. Anyone that has memorized John 3:16 is aware that God’s love was made evident in that “He Gave…” As the chorus says,
How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure (Stuart Townend, Copyright © 1995)
After the Disciples expressed their desire to have special positions of honor in Christ’s Kingdom, Jesus responded, “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). Giving is the example He set. If we truly love Him, we will be generous with Him and others and follow His example. And it is truly the best, the happiest way on earth, to live.
“Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
─ 2 CORINTHIANS 9:7