The Right Attitude
Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’ and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the Lord against you, and it become sin among you. You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. -- Deuteronomy 15:9-10
In today's passage, God clearly mentions two types of attitudes that we must confront to be cheerful givers like our heavenly Father: a selfish heart and a grieving heart.
Here God clearly labels selfish thoughts as wicked. Selfishness whispers that we won't have enough or that God won't be faithful to meet our needs if we give. God says, "Don't allow your heart to think that way." We are all selfish. The default condition of the human heart is to hoard and avoid sharing with anyone. For example, have you ever noticed that every English-speaking, two-year-old's favorite word is "mine"? We are completely and utterly self-absorbed from birth. Then a loving, heavenly Father comes to us and says, "I want to deal with this wicked, selfish heart and make you a giver. I want to make you like Me."
In Deuteronomy 15, after addressing the fact that we have a selfish heart, the second thing it says we have to deal with when it comes to giving is a grieving heart. God instructs us not to grieve after we've been obedient in giving. Selfishness can attack us before we give, but grief can attack us after we give.
Have you ever had buyer's remorse? Maybe you spent a lot of money on something such as a car or house, and after the excitement of the moment wore off, you experienced that panicky "what-have-I-done" feeling. As a result of this phenomenon, many of the items purchased on impulse are returned the following day.
Something similar can happen when you've been obedient to give as the Holy Spirit prompts. This often happens because people feel pressured to give rather than giving because it's their heart's desire. That means you have to guard your heart, not only before you give but afterward, as well.
So, how do you combat grief? You do it with a proper perspective regarding "your" money.
I once stopped right in the middle of a sermon and said, "I need someone to give me $100." Immediately, a man jumped up, came to the front, and handed me a one-hundred-dollar bill. I stuck the bill in my pocket and continued right on with my sermon. I'm sure every person in the congregation was thinking, Why did he ask for $100? And why was that man so quick to get up and give it to him? After letting everyone stew on it for several minutes, I explained. "Let me tell you why that gentleman was so quick to bring me $100 without knowing why I needed it. Before the service, I gave him a hundred-dollar bill and told him I would ask for it during the service and to bring it up quickly whenever I asked for it." The reason he gave the money promptly when I asked for it was because it was mine in the first place. He didn't experience grief, remorse, or emotional conflict about giving me the money. Why? Because he knew it wasn't his.
This illustration shows us exactly how we should steward the money God has given us. The truth is everything we have is God's, and when we know that in our hearts, we won't feel any grief when we give. Instead, we will feel joy and gratitude knowing God has blessed us so much that we can bless others.
Lord, thank You for reminding me that everything I have is Yours. Help me to handle my money as a steward, not an owner, so that selfishness and grief do not keep me from being a cheerful giver. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
FOR FURTHER STUDY
- Psalm 119:36; Psalm 50:9-10; 1 Timothy 6:10
Taken from The Blessed Life, a Gateway devotion.