The best advice might not be “Give from your heart,” but “Give from where you want your heart to be!” Give as though you were the sort of person you would like to be–and let your heart catch up later!
I came across this quote in an article by Mark Allen Powell, an author and New Testament professor, and they got me to thinking about the challenge many of us face in aligning our charitable giving with our values and priorities. Religions and wisdom traditions around the world offer explicit guidelines for giving, with a common thread: your treasure is where your heart is.
Many of us aspire to grow in our capacity to be generous. We want to be in a position to give more of our time, money, and energy to the people, institutions, and causes most important to us. However, this can be a challenging aspiration for many, depending on our financial circumstances and obligations. Generosity and giving are learned behaviors, developmental in nature, and reinforced by practice and the emotional rewards experienced.
As Powell suggests, sometimes we need to envision ourselves as generous people, clarify what is most important to us, and then simply engage in the action of giving. With each act of generosity, we begin to think of ourselves and others differently. It is through our regular practice of giving that we align our behavior and our resources with our heart.
May it be so.
Resources for Exploring Religious and Wisdom Teachings about Giving, Generosity, and Stewardship: