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3 Ways Generosity Protects Your Heart

Our hearts were made to worship, but we can’t worship both God and money.

by Glenna Marshall

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” — Matthew 6:21

The most generous people I know are not wealthy. They are, however, Christians. And their openhandedness with material possessions and money is driven by their love for Jesus. They give with joy, without strings, and at a cost to their own personal finances. I’ve benefited from their generosity on many occasions, and what I’ve learned about their approach to money is that money itself doesn’t mean much to them. The money isn’t their treasure. Jesus is. Their hearts are attached to the One whose value is beyond earthly calculations. Our verse this month says that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Your heart follows what you love. If your treasure is Jesus, then you’re free to be generous without fear of the cost.  


Let’s get one sticky issue out of the way first. Isn’t money "the root of all evil”? That sounds right, doesn’t it? Money can and does cause all sorts of problems. But money itself is morally neutral. Money can’t do anything apart from the humans who use it for good or for evil. What God’s Word actually says about money is this: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10, emphasis added). We must earn and spend money to make it in this life; that’s just the way the world works. But it’s the desperate pursuit and worship of money that gets us all tangled up in idolatry. Our hearts were made to worship, but we can’t worship both God and money. That’s where the “evil” part comes into play: loving money. Worshiping it, chasing it relentlessly. In the pursuit of wealth lies the sin of selfishness. If money is your treasure, you won’t want to let it go. If money is your treasure, generosity will feel impossible. But if your treasure is Christ, then generosity can protect you from selfishness and idolatry. Let’s explore three ways generosity can protect your heart from the idolatry of money. 


You don’t have to be wealthy to be stingy about money. But you also don’t have to be wealthy to be generous with money. Remember the poor widow who gave all the money she had to the offering? In Mark 12:43, Jesus praised her gift, even though it amounted to about 1/64th of a day’s wage.[1] It wasn’t the amount that was significant. It was the attitude of the widow’s heart. She gave all she had to live on. That’s what impressed Jesus: she gave from her poverty rather than abundance. Her heart was reflected in her giving. And it’s the heart that Jesus is always after. 

Do you trust God with your finances enough to live generously? Do you worry that if you make a sacrifice with your money that He won’t provide for your own needs? Generosity can reveal where your trust truly lies: in God or in money. 


Every good gift is ultimately from God, and his provision should turn our hearts back to him, the giver. When Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6, he told us to ask God for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11). He is the one who meets our needs, so it’s him we go to in prayer for what we need in this life: food, work, health, love, joy, salvation. He is a father who loves his children. He’s not stingy! His lavish love should stir up love in return. We can emulate his generosity, trusting him to provide when we give at cost to our personal finances and time. Money and possessions can be found and lost in a moment. But no one can take the love of God in Christ Jesus from you. That’s why he is the treasure. 


Everything we have is ultimately from the Lord, so we can live open handedly when it comes to our money and our stuff. None of it is truly ours! Asaph tells us that God owns “the cattle on a thousand hills,” meaning everything belongs to God (Psalm 50:10). And it does! He spoke the universe into existence. He is the author of life. Everything is rightfully his. But he shares with us so that we have what we need and can meet the needs of others. When we view “our” money and “our” stuff as God’s money and God’s stuff, we can escape the entanglements of selfishness and idolatry. We are blessed to bless. We might not view ourselves as wealthy, but when we can give without feeling too much of a financial pinch, we are definitely wealthier than most.[2]


No one has ever loved you like Jesus. He laid down his very life for yours. He became sin so that you could become righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). The way of Jesus is sacrifice, and you are never more like him than when you put the needs of others before your own desires. You can open your hands and share what was never yours to begin with. 

When you support that single mom at church who is struggling to make ends meet, you’re declaring that her life matters more than your savings account. When you choose to support your local pregnancy care center or homeless shelter instead of eating dinner out every week, you’re displaying love for the desperate and destitute because you know how needy you were for the Lord’s intervention in your own life. When you write that check to your church each month instead of spending it on more leisure or entertainment activities, you prove that the ministries of the local church matter more than a trip to the movies or a weekend away. When you sponsor an underprivileged child instead of subscribing to another streaming service, you celebrate the value of image bearers. 

When we give because we believe that the kingdom and love of Jesus matter for eternity, we will find that money passes easily from our hands into the hands of those who need it. Generosity shows that we love people more than we love stuff—because we love Jesus the most. 

Your heart follows your treasure. If your treasure is money, then you will spend your life worrying, working, storing, spending, saving, and chasing something that will never last. If Jesus is your treasure, though, you will follow him, gladly sharing what he has given to you. When we invest our earthly currency in kingdom ventures, we will see the rewards for eternity. Jesus is the treasure that lasts forever. 


[1] Today, that translates to around $3 in the U.S.

[2] Luca Ventura, “Poorest Countries in the World 2023 [Updated September],” September 17, 2023.

Jen Oshman

Jen Oshman has been in women’s ministry for over two decades on three continents. She’s the author of Enough about Me and Cultural Counterfeits, she hosts a weekly podcast about cultural events and trends called All Things,and she is the mother of four daughters. Jen's family currently resides in Colorado, where they planted Redemption Parker.

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