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“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill, and cumin. But, you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
Sometimes I do the right thing; but I’ll do it for the wrong reason. Can you relate to that? You know, I’ll do something like say ‘please’ and ‘thank you;’ but only to get something for myself. Or in a bigger way, I’ll go to church to fellowship with other believers and not be thinking about how I’m there to worship God. It’s not that having either good manners or fellowship is bad. The problem arises when I neglect the more important things when I do them.
Our generosity can be similar to this, too. Sometimes when we are trying to be generous toward God or toward our neighbor, our generosity is completely external. Outside we might be smiling and helping; but, inside we are hard-hearted and resenting the generosity we are showing.
In Matthew, Chapter 23, Jesus called out people in His time that did something similar. He criticized religious leaders who were fervently – and legalistically – hooked on giving. They even gave from the herbs and spices they grew in their gardens! But, you know where these people went wrong? They neglected more important things like justice, mercy, and faithfulness. Jesus goes on to say that they should have been giving without neglecting the more important things of their faith.
Likewise, when you are being generous, God cares about the heart you bring to your generosity. Your generosity goes hand-in-hand with your love for God and neighbor, your desire to bear a good testimony for God and your desire that God always be glorified in what you do. Generosity is a central characteristic of Christians; but, it is not the only trait and God would never have you sacrifice something more important so that you could appear to be living generously.
Be honest, when in the last 34 days have you just gone through the motions in your generosity? Maybe your heart was completely wrong? Maybe you just didn’t care? Through prayer ask the Lord, WHY? Then write down your answers below.
About Michael Stickler
Mike is an author, radio host, and a highly sought after motivational speaker. His best-selling book, A Journey to Generosity, is widely acclaimed throughout the Christian community. He is the publisher of Generous Living Magazine and writes for the Christian Post, 'A Generous Life' column.
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