Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Near To The Heart Of God"1 (Lyrics)
To give something away signifies generosity, or at least that is what we assume. Is it always true?
Once, I heard it said, "Don't give away more than you can afford to lose." I pondered this, for it did not make sense. Later, I was surprised to become aware of actions and feelings that followed the giving. At times, there was a manifestation of resentment.
Sometimes, we give because we have a surplus and see another in need, whether it be in time, money, or care. But do we always do for others or give things away to others with a completely altruistic motive? Often, our reasons for giving can result in problems.
Generosity can sometimes be motivated by a deep desire for other people's approval. If we have been struggling all our lives with a desire for approval from others, the appreciation that often results from giving suggests to us that we are okay and can measure up. Others are indeed surprised and say things like, "Oh, that is so kind of you" or something similar, and the giver feels appreciated. One of the problems that can result is over-generosity, beyond a person's means. Another problem can arise later if there is conflict between the giver and the receiver. The giver struggles with thoughts of "After all I did for you?" How valuable would that gift be if it would later cause resentment and bitterness? We may be advised to remember this advice:
Hebrews 12:15 – See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled. (ESV)
At other times, we may give because we are advised to, or because others expect it, though our heart is not in it, and it does not originate in kindly feelings. This is just as troublesome, for it may also cause resentment. Sometimes, however, such an experience can benefit us by making us grow:
Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing, you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (ESV)
If we can truly discern what our motives are and give unreservedly, then it is a great act of charity. God remembers these acts.
We will always struggle with our own real motivations in this world until we obtain the heavenly paradise. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23 ESV). We continue to help each other with our struggles as much as we are able, for this is our mission as brothers and sisters.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we are thankful that You provide us with the grace to renew ourselves in You on a daily, even hourly, basis. You constantly endeavour to lead us to the altruism that You inspire. Continually motivate us to love You and to love our brothers and sisters as ourselves because of You. Amen.