When the heart is right the feet are swift.”
That’s the way Thomas Jefferson put it many years ago. There are other ways to say the same thing. A happy spirit takes the grind out of giving. A positive attitude makes sacrifice a pleasure. When the morale is high, the motivation is strong. When there is joy down inside, no challenge seems too great. The grease of gusto frees the gears of generosity.
And have you noticed how contagious such a spirit becomes? Not only do we feel the wind at our backs, others do as well. And when we are surrounded by that dynamic, a fresh surge of determination sweeps over us. You cannot stop it!
A close friend gave me a small paperback titled Great War Speeches, a compilation of the most stirring speeches by Sir Winston Churchill. I had already read most of them, but in rereading over the past several days, I found myself once again stimulated . . . prodded to do better, to reach higher, to give greater measures of myself. Churchill’s words regarding our age never fail to move me. What an eloquent spokesman for good! Describing courageous warriors, he wrote:
Every morn brought forth a noble change
And every change brought forth a noble knight.¹
Reminds me of David’s words after Araunah offered the king one of his possessions for nothing. “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God which cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24). David refused a handout.
I love the application the late great preacher John Henry Jowett drew from David’s words: “Ministry that costs nothing, accomplishes nothing.” Long enough have God’s people drifted along passively dreaming for things to change. It’s time to act. It’s time to make things change. And while we’re at it, I suggest we have the time of our lives. Let’s do so with gusto!
Can you recall the statement about giving that Paul made in the 2 Corinthians letter? This statement is perhaps the foundational reference in Scripture that links joy with giving. “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly [the word means “reluctantly”] or under compulsion [“feeling forced because of what others may say or think”], for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). The term cheerful, remember, comes from a Greek word, hilaros, from which we get our word hilarious. And in the original statement, hilaros is placed first for emphasis. Literally, “for the hilarious giver God prizes.” Why? Because hilarious givers have swift feet. They give with gusto!
- When the Israelites gave themselves and their belongings to construct the tabernacle in the wilderness, their gusto was so evident they had to be told not to give anymore (Exodus 36:6–7).
- When the people in Jerusalem rallied around Nehemiah and rebuilt that wall, their gusto resulted in a record-breaking achievement (Nehemiah 2:17–18; 4:6; 6:15–16).
- When Jesus challenged His followers to be unselfish, He taught that it is “more blessed to give than to receive,” connecting joy with our financial investments in eternal things (Acts 20:35).
Want to bring back the gusto? Want to become a “noble knight” at the round table of generosity? Let me remind you of four simple suggestions. They work for me.
- Reflect on God’s gifts to you. Hasn’t He been good? Better than we deserve. Sufficient food, clothing, and safe shelters. Even more blessings of good health, happy families, and close friends . . . and so much more.
- Remind yourself of His promises regarding generosity. Call to mind a few biblical principles that promise the benefits of sowing bountifully. Bumper crops, don’t forget, are God’s specialty.
- Examine your heart. Nobody but you can do this. Open that private vault and ask several hard questions, like:
- Is my giving proportionate to my income?
- Am I motivated by guilt . . . or by contagious joy?
- If someone else knew the level of my giving to God’s work, would I be a model to follow?
- Have I prayed about giving . . . or am I just an impulsive responder?
- Trust God to honor consistent generosity. Here’s the big step, but it’s essential. Go for it! Release your restraint—when you really believe God is leading you to make a significant contribution—and develop the habit of generosity. I seriously doubt that generosity has ever hurt many people!
Coming to the end of our fiscal year at Insight for Living, we have an enormous financial challenge in front of us. But it is achievable if . . . our spirits stay happy . . . if our morale stays high. Let’s make this year our all-time best. Let’s give as we have never given before with outstanding offerings of a sacrificial nature, like noble knights of old.
If our hearts are right, our feet will be swift. And if our feet are swift, we’ll not only reach our budget goals, we’ll go beyond them! Ministry that costs nothing, remember, accomplishes nothing.