“If I gave everything I have to poor people, and if I were burned alive for preaching the gospel but didn’t love others, it would be of no value whatever” (1 Corinthians 13:3, TLB).
To the Lord who sees our hearts and tests our minds (Jeremiah 17:10), motive matters. Why we give matters – more, even, than how much or to whom?
Love has to be a driving force behind our giving. Love of God. Love of neighbor. If we don’t have love, we are nothing.
Why do I give money to help a friend through a rough time? To make him feel like he owes me something or because I see him as Jesus sees him, and I want to love him in his time of need. Why do I volunteer my time to a church or charity? For the approval of others or out of love and gratitude for what my heavenly Father has done for me.
My motive in giving never ceases to be suspect. Only through the power of the Spirit at work in my heart – purging pride and fear – am I left with the residue of love. Generosity motivated by love is invaluable. But generosity without love? As with anything we do without love, it is worthless.
Only through the power of the Spirit at work in my heart – purging pride and fear – am I left with the residue of love.
Paul’s writings on love are probably the most quoted literature ever on this topic. With the cutting argument of a prosecuting attorney he begins with motive. Unless love is the beginning and end of your reason for being generous, you may receive earthly accolades, but heaven will be eerily silent, only the sound of disapproval will resonate from your works. Better to give a little in love than a lot for recognition.
“And so, dear brothers, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living sacrifice, holy – the kind he can accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?”
–Romans 12:1, TLB
A great starting point with giving motivated by love is to offer our gifts to God in worship and thanksgiving first. A gift first given to Jesus recognizes and honors him as our Savior, Lord, Provider, Lover and Faithful Friend. The Lord takes our living sacrifice and brings life to other lives. A colleague in need of faith? God can bring salvation through our generosity motivated by love. A fearful and fatigued friend? Christ can extend hope and endurance through our generosity motivated by love. A relative overcome by sorrow and grief? Jesus, our sympathizing Savior, can bring comfort through our generosity motivated by love. We first offer our loving gift to God.
Unless love is the beginning and end of your reason for being generous, you may receive earthly accolades, but heaven will be eerily silent
Why do you give? Ask your heavenly Father to give you a heart of love, so you give out of a heart of love. Yes, Jesus expects you to give, so comply cheerfully, not begrudgingly or just out of obligation. Raise your reason for giving to the rarified air of love alone. Love trusts the Lord to apply a gift toward its divine purpose. Love believes God can multiply a gift far beyond human capabilities. So rest, enjoy and watch worthy results from your loving, generous gift.
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again”
–2 Corinthians 5:14-15
Is there an act of generosity you need to complete to be sure you are motivated by love?