I’m in the middle of learning that it’s not so much what I do, but why I do it that matters. 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 17 loads of laundry, make a stunning paleo dinner that everyone will surely enjoy and top the night off with a brisk, five-mile jog.

First of all, just to be clear, that is not my life. Second of all, if it were 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 feeling exhausted and empty because I filled every second of the day, but I did it all for the wrong reasons. None of those things would’ve been done out of the joy of my heart. None of those things would’ve been done out of gratitude and thanksgiving.

I’ve listened to sermons on generosity and giving before. Usually, they have me going home, 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 a plan to buy replacements.

Some would look at those acts and call them generous. 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.”
— Matthew 11:28-30

We make things too hard, you and I. Generosity isn’t even about money — not really. God knows my heart. He knows my passions and my gifts. He knows what my time and my bank account look like. He’s never asked too much of me. He simply asks me to listen. If I’m following Jesus and loving people, generosity will be a natural byproduct in my life. It won’t be forced and stressful. It will, however, hold purpose and beauty, and it will make me a more joyful person. Generosity is worthy of my time.