October 24, 2012

The Amount Matters to the Heart

 

John is a twenty-six-year-old software engineer for a growing technology company. He’s pretty satisfied with his $85,000 annual salary, and makes maximum contributions to his 401k.

He enjoys his $1,500 per month apartment near the mountains and his new mini-SUV. He is particularly glad he purchased the special edition sport package to haul his toys around.

John is also excited about beginning his new life with Amy, his soon-to-be fiancé.

When she saw the velvet black box, it took her breath away. But after she opened the box, her reaction changed.

When she found out John had purchased the ring for $250, (“What a deal!”) she was devastated.

Amy was not a materialistic person. Yet she still found the gift to be deeply insulting. She sobbed, asking him if he really loved her.

John rose to the defense and said something that he would later regret: “The amount for the ring doesn’t matter anyway.  After all, it’s the heart that counts.”

All about the Heart?

In my discussions with Christians about giving, no opinion has been more frequent than this one: “The amount doesn’t really matter . . . it’s all about the heart.”

I understand the good intentions behind this statement. The problem is, the message is wrong. Often we use this “heart card” to avoid deeper questions about the amount we give. For some, this wrong thinking actually adds to the gnawing sense of guilt so many carry—but guilt should have no place in our life and in our giving.

While the heart is crucial in our gifts, the amount matters too. In fact, it’s the amount that helps engage the heart.

During the famous message we call the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught the connection between our hearts and amounts. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21).

Wherever you invest your money, your heart follows. And if you spend an amount that matters, it will move a level of your heart that matters. The amount gets the attention of the heart.

Two Cars

I used to have two very different cars that sat in my driveway: an old car and a much newer, more expensive car.

In the evenings after work I would take my boys outside to ride their bikes.

When they would ride into our driveway to make their turns, occasionally they would get their handlebars too close and bump up against the cars.

If they collided with my old car, I would run over to help them up and make sure they were okay.

If they collided with my new car, I would run over to make sure my car was okay. Then I would scold the kids for being careless.

Why the difference in my reaction? Because the new car had more of my treasure, and therefore, more of my heart. The new car was worth more to me than the old car. The new car owned more of my heart.

How about you? Does your giving get the attention of your heart?

 

Photo cc by base2wave on Flickr.

Originally Published: October 24, 2012
Category: Money and Stewardship
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