Generosity and Our Motives
- May 7, 2012
- Rick Boxx
Seth Godin's book, Linchpin, includes a fascinating chapter on generosity, complete with some biblical history. But this brilliant marketer offers a different perspective on giving. He urges leaders to be generous, not with their money, but with their talents.
He places people in three categories. The first consists of those who desire only to be recipients. The second group is made up of people that are generous, but it is evident that you owe them big time in return. The third group is generous, simply because they love you and are concerned about your best interests.
As I thought about Godin’s observations, I realized how easy it could be to fall into the second category. We might choose to give away our talent or skills, but deep down we might be wondering, “What is in it for me.
This is why the Bible affirms repeatedly that God is concerned about both the “what” and the “why” of our actions, including our charitable deeds and gestures. As Proverbs 16:2 teaches, "All a person's ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord."
Another passage points out that although we might be fooled by external behavior, God recognizes what is going inside: “…The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Few people measure up to the standards established by manufacturer and inventor R.G. LeTourneau, a truly good-hearted giver. From the 1920s to the 1960s, he developed and sold much of the first earthmoving equipment. Mr. LeTourneau became known as “The Dean of Earthmoving,” and was regarded as the greatest inventor of the huge machines that could transform the landscape. Even with his business accomplishments, however, his reputation for generosity was even greater. Using his talents to help others gave him much joy.
For years, Mr. LeTourneau practiced what could be considered a “reverse tithe”: He gave away 90 percent of his profits, and lived on 10 percent – instead of donating 10 percent of his earnings, which many consider to be a biblical “tithe.” He happily watched millions of dollars flow through his business and into charitable work, much of it being used in funding extensive worldwide ministries to meet both spiritual and physical needs.
2 Corinthians 8:7 teaches, "But just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us – see that you also excel in this grace of giving." Despite his considerable achievements in the business world, many people might not recognize Mr. LeTourneau's name. However, even though he died in 1969, I guarantee that many people have continued to benefit from Mr. LeTourneau’s generosity. Numerous organizations and institutions he helped to support continue doing worthwhile work today. That, and not the machinery he developed, is his greatest legacy.
Let me ask you some important questions:
- Have you examined your motives lately? Even if you are generous with your talents, as well as your financial resources, do you give for the right reasons?
- What kind of legacy will you be remembered for?
Copyright 2012, Integrity Resource Center, Inc. Adapted with permission from "Integrity Moments with Rick Boxx," a commentary on issues of integrity in the workplace from a Christian perspective. To learn more about Integrity Resource Center or to sign up for Rick’s daily Integrity Moments, visit www.integrityresource.org. His book, How to Prosper in Business Without Sacrificing Integrity, gives a biblical approach for doing business with integrity.
1. Of the three categories of people, in terms of attitudes toward giving, which would best describe you – a recipient; a person that gives but then expects something in return; or a giver that simply wants to help others, with no regard to receiving credit or recognition? Explain your answer.
2. Do you agree that the motives behind our giving are important? Why or why not?
3. What impact – if any – does it have on you to know that God “weighs the motives” and “looks at the heart” when evaluating the things we do and say, even charitable activities?
4. One passage cited in this “Monday Manna” exhorts followers of Jesus to “excel in this grace of giving.” How would you explain to someone else what that means, both in principle and in practice?
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:
Proverbs 11:24-25, 18:16, 19:6, 25:14; Matthew 6:19-24; 1 Corinthians 9:9-12; 2 Corinthians 9:6-14