This post is the sixth post in an 8 part series. For more posts in this series, check out the series frontpage ... Short Series: On Giving.
Which comes first, the giving or the heart?
"Show me your checkbook and I'll show you what you care about" we proverbially hear. (Students, a checkbook is what people used back before we invented debit cards and electronic transfers). Our hearts and our giving are intimately connected.
Common sense tells us that the heart comes first. We assume that we give to people, groups and causes that we care about. We think that we control our money.
But Jesus assumes that our hearts follow our money.
In Matthew 6, Jesus encourages a gathered crowd to store up treasures in heaven, rather than on earth. And his reason for doing this is that "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Treasure / money / giving comes first. Our hearts follow.
What does this mean for us?
First, we can pay attention to our money as a lie-detector.
When we know that something has gone wrong with our hearts, when something feels off, we can look at our checkbooks (or our personal finance software). Sometimes, a look at our finances can uncover sources of disquiet we hadn't considered. Our words may deceive us, mislead us as to our values and intentions. Sometimes the numbers can open our eyes.
Second, we can use our money as a steering wheel.
If your heart follows your money, you may be able to influence your priorities. I know, this is a logical tumble. But I've found it helpful in my own life. Thoughtful, intentional financial investment can open doors for deeper commitment. The same is true for all of our treasures (ie. time, property, toys, skills, etc...).
Third, we cannot move our hearts without moving our money.
Throughout the Bible, the people of God are warned over and over again not to love money too much. Love of God and love of money are set up as opponents. If our hearts are going to be turned toward God, our attitude toward money has to change. And sometimes, God uses money to turn our hearts toward him.
How have you seen money influence your heart?
Walking through this material has made me re-examine my and Amy's giving patterns. Tomorrow, I'll share some of my findings and decision-making processes. I think it'll help you to know how we decide where to give.