I have been mulling this around for the last few weeks. I want to propose that there is a direct connection between your ability to be generous and your ability to address your idols.
Tim Keller defines idols this way: “An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, “if I have that, then i’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.”
The Bottom line is this: idols bring security (or at least we hope that’s what they will do for us). If my idol is “being liked” I will do whatever I can do to be liked because I believe that will make me secure and help me feel significant.
In our society, security and safety tend to be a very popular idols. Of course, as any idol goes, they are a mirage. Our belief that safety and security that come through money, success, power, etc is completely false. Most of us know this but so many of us chase after it. Even the Christians do it (gasp! can you believe it?!). Money, success, power – they are all terribly unreliable gods.
Generosity can be defined very basically as: “readiness or liberality in giving“.
I am guessing you can see the dilemma here. If what makes me secure in life is money, power or success I’ll spend my life chasing after those things and thus I will have little place for generosity. Why? Because generosity is the antithesis of that pursuit. The pursuit of significance in power, money or success is by nature a self-focused act. Generosity thus makes no sense (unless we find our safety and security in feeling loved by helping others!).
This is why one of the first acts of generosity should be confronting our idols. As we discern where we are finding our meaning and significance we will be be able to see where our idols are keeping us from being generous.
So, do you wish you were a more generous person?
Start by taking a look at your idols.
The more you find your significance in the One who gave his life so that the world would be made whole the more you’ll stop grabbing for significance through self-focused means.