“WHY?” ISN’T JUST A WORD FOR TWO YEAR OLDS
I’m in the middle of learning that it’s not so much what I do—but why I do it. It all boils down to motive. I could be the best wife on the planet. I could rise before the sun to make my family a hot breakfast, drop off and pick up my husband’s clothes from the cleaners, clean the house, teach my toddler the Greek alphabet, do seventeen loads of laundry, write a NYT Bestselling novel, make a stunning paleo dinner that everyone will surely enjoy, and top the night off with a brisk five-mile jog before I read a self-improvement book in bed. First of all, just to be clear, this is not my life. Second of all, if it was my life, and I was checking off this long list of to-dos for approval, that motive would bring me zero joy at the end of the day. I would be left EXHAUSTED and EMPTY because I filled every second of the day, but I did it all for the wrong reasons. None of those things were done out of the joy of my heart. None of those things were done out of gratitude.
I’ve read and listened to stories of generous people, & it’s often left me ridden with guilt, only to find myself cleaning out my closet to give half of my things away. I’ve even given our couches away when we didn’t have the plan to buy replacements.
Some would look at those acts and call them generous ones. And my heart may have longed to be in the right place—in fact I’m sure it was. But my motive was one of guilt, and you can’t find generosity through guilt.
Trying to be generous because I feel guilty about having too much isn’t generosity. It’s me being moral and good to please people. Being generous out of guilt has nothing to do with Jesus.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew11:28-30, ESV)
We make things too hard, you and me. Generosity isn’t even about money—not really. God knows my heart, & he knows yours. He knows my passions and my gifts, and he knows yours. He knows what my time and my bank account look like, & he knows the same for you. He’s never asked too much of me, & I doubt he has of you. He simply asks us to listen. If I’m following Jesus and loving people, generosity will be such a natural byproduct of my life. It won’t be forced and stressful. However, it will hold purpose and beauty, and it will make me a more joyful person. Generosity is worthy of my time. So before I do something generous today, I’ll ask myself why? It may be the quickest and most accurate motive checker.