At The Heart of It

We’ve all seen it at an event, churchy or otherwise, the ‘giving buckets’ roll around and the pennies tumble in.

Although the act is the same, the people putting in their contributions, there is all sorts of different at the heart.

There are the overflowing/ joyful givers, whose gift comes with a heart supremely grateful to have something to give.

The brave givers, who give in defiance to cultural values that say life is about trusting wealth as the be-all and end-all.

There are the resentful givers, who give because they feel like they are under duress to give.

The imagey givers, whose gift is about what other people might think. The ones who give because they judge and feel judged.

There are the DNA givers, who like giving, who look to give, who don’t give it a second thought because it’s just what they do.

The cause givers, who give because they want to use their money/resources to change political and cultural landscapes.

And there’s more and probably as many categories for those who didn’t give – the secret givers, the tight, the poor, the gave it all away yesterday, the empty purse but willing heart…..

From the outside the actions are the same. Who’s to say which giver is which and who has the right reason for giving.

hands

The point is we are limited by what we observe, but we judge by that standard. Wouldn’t it be so easy to watch the bucket go by and judge the non-giver and approve of the giver not knowing that the non-giver had withheld in order to give more to a cause the are passionate about and the giver gave purely for image and as little as possible.

If this is true for as small an act as pennies in a bucket then doesn’t it become more so for so many other situations?

We step onto a slippery slope when we start to take our perceptions as reality, and we live poorer and smaller when those perceptions derail our ability to live without judging others.

I’m trying to slow down when I see actions – good, bad or otherwise – and remind myself I am bringing my own perceptions to that situation. If we must judge (and really must we at all?) let us judge people by the best perception possible.

We will be richer for it.

We see but a slither, if an action is an iceberg it is only the tip and we cannot perceive what is driving that action forward without truly knowing the person. Sometimes we do not even understand our own actions properly.

In all this I am reminded of these enduring words,

A person looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart. (1 Sam 16v7)

and, in light of this, I join with David in praying,

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.

 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139 v23-24

I am challenged and delighted by the words of Paul,

Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. You’re fortunate if your behaviour and your belief are coherent. But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you’re out of line. If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.

Romans 14v22-23

(the whole chapter is brilliant for this issue of judgement and perception).

May we all keep humble when we see, reminding ourselves we do not fully know the whys. May we live right and true in our own actions neither to impress others, or out of fear. May we be pure in our motives and small in our judgements. We will be richer in all ways if we can.

and…. may we all have generous hearts, and full wallets when it comes to the causes that make our hearts beat fast xxx