Wednesday: The Motives of the Heart

In an earlier lesson we noted the story of the widow’s generous offering. Though minuscule in comparison to other offerings, it was generous because it showed the true nature of her character and heart, prompting Jesus to say, “This poor widow has put in more than all” (Luke 21:3, NKJV).

Motives of the Heart

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God alone (James 4:12) knows our true motives (Prov. 16:2; see also 1 Cor. 4:5). It is possible to have the right actions with the wrong motives. To give out of abundance does not require much faith, but to give sacrificially for the good of others can indeed say something very powerful about our hearts.

Read 2 Corinthians 8:8-15. What is Paul talking about here in regard to giving and the motives for giving? What principles can we take from these texts regarding stewardship?

Whatever your motive for giving may be, it is on a continuum that ranges from ego to altruism. The fight on this continuum between selfishness and giving is fought more frequently than any other spiritual fight. Selfishness will chill a heart that was once on fire for God. The problem comes when we let selfishness into our Christian experience. That is, we find ways to justify our selfishness and do it in the name of Christ.

The bottom line comes down to one word: love. And love cannot be manifested without self-denial, a willingness to give of oneself, even sacrificially, for the good of others.

Unless God’s love is reflected in our lives, our giving will not reflect God’s love. A selfish heart tends to love only itself. We must ask the Lord to “circumcise the foreskin of [our] heart” (Deut. 10:16, NKJV) so that we can learn to love as we have been loved.

Love, the basis of all true beneficence, captures the sum of all Christian benevolence. God’s love directed toward us inspires us to love in return, and it is truly the supreme motive for giving.

What’s wrong, if anything, with a freewill offering given more out of a sense of obligation than a sense of love?

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Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons