From Our Hearts to Yours
Like all of the character traits Jesus embodied, generosity is a matter of the heart. The Pharisees, a sect of religious leaders in Jesus’ day, made a great show of giving to the needy, both in the synagogues and on the streets. They thought this proved how righteous and spiritual they were.
However, Jesus taught just the opposite regarding generosity. He said giving should be done in secret. He instructed us to “take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them.” Instead, you are to not even “let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” Why? “That…your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” (Matthew 6:1,2-4).
Giving God’s way demonstrates true righteousness before God, not in front of others, And the result? God in turn rewards the giver. In other words, you cannot look for your blessings and rewards from both man and God.
Giving is a matter between you and God and not you and another person or cause, no matter how important it is. It’s a matter of the heart. Giving is to be an act of worship. Just as you prepare yourself for worship and ministry, you are to prepare yourself for acts of generosity (2 Corinthians 9:7). Where’s your heart? A guiding truth teaches that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
We know generosity is not necessarily an indicator of a relationship with Jesus. There are many charitable people in the world who are not Christians. But those who have a heart for Jesus and sincerely desire to follow Him are generous — like Him! He instructed us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Unfortunately we tend to get this backward. We seek “things” first and add Jesus on as an afterthought.
If you’re feeling the need for a priority makeover, a look at your checkbook or your monthly credit card statement will shout out what you are seeking — things, or the things of God. Take a peek. It’s a little like taking your temperature. See what it reveals about the level of your commitment to possessions versus the things Jesus values. What does it disclose about your heart-attitude toward money and possessions and generosity?
We also need to asses the generosity of our time and attitudes. Are we available and free with our time for others’ concerns. Do we secretly avoid or seek to help those in need?
Jesus did not make it a secret that a life of faith in Him will look differently than the world. But, let make sure that the secret of your heart is genuine generosity that reflects the genuine goodness of God.
Question: What surprise did you find when you first took the temperature of your generosity by observing your checkbook? Did something stand out in particular that you wish to remedy?
Despite the title, this is not the quick guide to God’s fame and fortune for you! God warns us often to beware of greed, lust, bitterness, and envy. But, in our culture and day-and-age it can be hard for any person to have a correct perspective on money. Beloved woman after God’s own heart, you and I must realize that in God’s economy, many things are more important than money.
True wealth – We are to “be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share” (1 Timothy 6:18). As a few more proverbs put it, “Better is a little with righteousness, than vast revenues without justice” and “better is a little with the fear of the LORD, than great treasure with trouble” (Proverbs 16:8 and 15:16).
Rather than greediness, desiring to be rich, and loving and chasing after money, we are to “flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11). Dear one, physical riches will one day be gone (verse 7). Therefore realize that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (verse 6).
Your character is more important than money — “Those who are of a perverse heart are an abomination to the LORD, but the blameless in their ways are His delight” (Proverbs 11:20).
Your reputation, too, is better than money — “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches” (Proverbs 22:1).
Wisdom is also more important than money — “The crown of the wise is their riches” (Proverbs 14:24); “how much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver” (Proverbs 16:16).
And humility is better than money — “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4).
And here’s another twist — you, as a godly wife, are better than money to your husband! “Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD” (Proverbs 19:14). In fact, according to the Bible, you, as a godly wife, are your husband’s greatest asset. With a godly wife of character, humility, wisdom, and faithfulness beside him, the Bible says your husband “will have no lack of gain” (Proverbs 31:11). Why? Because as “a virtuous wife” your “worth is far above rubies” (verse 10).
In the reality of God’s economy we are rich beyond measure. We’ve been given the ultimate gifts of salvation through Christ, the constant presence of the Holy Spirit, and every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3). We can rest in God’s care and provision for all of our needs (Philippians 4:19). Praise God— We are rich indeed!
A Prayer to Pray: Lord, I have so many blessings right now, and I still tend to focus on my wants or what others have. Do not let me define my value by a dollar sign. Help me to place more value and crave the things that you value.
When Moses was tending his father-in-law’s sheep in Midian, he led them out to the desert to Mount Horeb (also known as Mount Sinai). There he encountered a bush that burned, yet was not consumed by the fire. As Moses turned to see what was going on, God called to him from inside the bush. He told Moses to take off his sandals because he was standing on holy ground. God then explained to Moses that He had heard the cries of the people of Israel, who were in bondage in Egypt, and that He was going to use Moses to confront Pharaoh and bring His people out of Egypt.
Moses thought there was no way God could use him. He basically asked God, “Who am I? Why would You send me to go before Pharaoh? And what makes You think I could bring the children of Israel out of Egypt? No, God. You’ve got the wrong guy!” (See Exodus 3:11). God assured Moses that He would be with him. But Moses remained unconvinced that he was the right man for the job, even after God provided him with miracles to show the people confirmation that God had sent him. Moses wanted God to send someone else, but God refused, allowing only Aaron, Moses’ brother, to go with him. Eventually, Moses complied and prepared to leave Midian to go to Egypt. (See Exodus 3:1-21.)
A Life Lesson from Moses — Stop, Look, and Listen:
The mind plays funny tricks on a person in a desert environment. Moses saw something that looked like a burning bush, yet it was not consumed by the flame. Moses had spent 40 years in the desert and had never seen anything like this! He could have concluded that it was a mirage or that he was having a heat stroke, and returned to his tent. But the supernatural caught his attention and he went to investigate. This choice to turn and check out this strange happening turned Moses’ life upside down. He was never the same person again.
Is God wanting to speak to you from His Word or through wise counsel? And are you willing to take the time to turn aside and hear His message? What if Moses hadn’t paused and turned to receive God’s instruction? Perhaps God would have found someone else, and Moses would have lost the blessing. Follow Moses’ example: Stop, look, and listen to what God has to say to you. You’ll be glad you did!
Question: Share a story of how you’ve stopped to look and listen from God in the last year. How was your life changed by this encounter?
In poetic language the writer of Proverbs 25:11 paints this word picture of good communication:
A word ﬁtly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
As a wife after God’s own heart, this kind of beauty should be the goal for all of your communication, but especially with the person most important and closest to you—your husband. So here are several of God’s keys to godly speech. Your words are to be…
…soft. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). The words we choose to use have an effect on the hearer. Harsh, loud, caustic speech leads to arguments and quarrels, while soft, gentle words bring about peace. And here’s another fact: “A soft tongue can break hard bones” (Proverbs 25:15 TLB)!
…sweet. “Sweetness of the lips increases learning” or inﬂuence (Proverbs 16:21). Do you want to get your point across? Then realize that “pleasant words promote instruction” and understanding (16:21 NIV).
…suitable. “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24). Kind, sweet words have a medicinal effect on both body and soul.
…scant. “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19). Another Bible translation is very vivid and down-to-earth in its language: “Don’t talk so much. You keep putting your foot in your mouth. Be sensible and turn off the ﬂow!” As a wise person once put it, “Sometimes the most skillful use of the tongue is keeping it still.”
…slow. “Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19). In even fewer words, make it your aim to “listen much, speak little, and not become angry” (TLB)! Why? Because “the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (verse 20 NKJV). No good ever comes from sinful anger.
What happens when you and I don’t communicate God’s way with our husbands? What results from a failure to pay attention to God’s wise guidelines for our speech? Proverbs has more word pictures for us, detailed in these verses:
“Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman” (Proverbs 21:9).
“Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman” (Proverbs 21:19).
“A continual dripping on a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike” (Proverbs 27:15).
I’m sure you get the picture! The message is that a crabby, cranky, nagging, quarrelsome, complaining, ill-tempered wife annoys her husband in the same way a constant drip gets on our nerves and “drives us crazy.” And, it’s important to note that poor communication drives people away, isolates, and divides spouses apart from one another.
Instead, don’t you want your speech to be like apples of gold in settings of silver? Like 14-carat gold fruit in a sterling silver basket? Priceless? Indescribable? Admirable? Exquisite? Desirable?
Then learn to speak with godly wisdom when you communicate with your husband. Choose words that are soft, sweet, suitable, and, despite the female tendency (especially mine!), scant!
Question: Which communication approach do you need to practice most with your husband?