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?