A Tale of Two Toilets
2 Corinthians 9:7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
One of my wife’s love languages is acts of service, which basically means that she really appreciates it when I help around the house. As it turns out, helping around the house is not one of my natural gifts. I have to work at it if I want to show her love. Cleaning the toilet and bathroom then, is a very real display of my love towards her. Though I do not, I should do it often.
It is not just if I do it though, that counts. It is how I do it. I can do the same job with two very different outcomes, based on my attitude. I can clean toilet one, with an attitude of burden, reminding myself, and maybe her, that when we started out, I was the one who was going to work outside the home. I can kindly point out that I am actually doing her job. Look at how I am sacrificing for you. With toilet one, I am focused on me, serving not out of love, but out of obligation.
Toilet two, on the other hand, I clean with a loving attitude. I do this thing for her because I know she is busy and could use the help around the house. I can admit that I am the messy one and that it cannot always be a joy to clean up after me. I do this focused on her instead of myself. I love you and I want to do this because I know you will feel loved when I do it. Toilet one and toilet two both get cleaned. The end result is the same for the toilets, but the difference in our relationship is dramatic.
Paul, in today’s passage, said that our attitude matters with God as well. When we give of our time and money, we are to give to God out of an attitude of love, not obligation. The attitude with which we do a thing actually impacts our intimacy with God.
Giving out of obligation focuses on me. I am sacrificing for you, God. Giving becomes about pointing to ourselves. This is legalism, doing for God because we believe that we prove our worth by doing. Paradoxically, doing things for God out of obligation can actually lead me further away from him as I am still pursuing self and not God.
If I want to grow my relationship with God, I am to give with my focus on him. I am to give because he has given to me. I give because I love him and want to obey him. God apparently loves it when I give with this attitude. When I do for God with my focus on him, it draws us closer. God loves a cheerful giver.
Just as with the toilets, if I truly want to love, I must give with my focus turned from me to the one I desire to love.