Why do you give gifts? Why do you give to your children, your spouse, your family, your friends, or someone in need? You give, hopefully, not to try to get something in return, but simply for the pleasure of giving. It is, after all, more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Living the give way just makes you happy.
But giving also does something else to us—something more specific. That’s because when we obey God’s law, a remarkable dynamic is set in motion.
Jesus Christ instructed us to lay up treasures not on Earth, but in heaven. Why? “For where your treasure is,” He said, “there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
This is an amazing truth. Your heart follows your treasure. When you give your time, your energy, your money or something else, you are also giving something more precious: a little piece of yourself.
We see this rule in action with tithing. In the Bible, God commands you to give 10 percent of your income to Him (e.g. Leviticus 27:30; Malachi 3:8-10; Matthew 23:23). God doesn’t need our money; He could provide for His work any number of miraculous ways. But He instructs you to commit your treasure to that work. This instills in you a habit of generosity that develops your character and makes you more like the great Giver (James 1:17). But it also draws your heart into His work. You take on a more committed mindset toward God’s plans and ambitions, His activities today, and how they are preparing for the future.
If you think about it, that act of giving helps you love God more. That is what God desires most of all.
In ancient Israel, God wanted to lay claim to the hearts of His people the same way. He commanded the Israelites to give regular offerings—daily, weekly, monthly, annually. Obviously, God had no practical need or use for the animals sacrificed and food and drink offered to Him by fire. His goal in having the Israelites give these things was to turn their hearts toward Himself.
There is a clue to this truth even in the word sacrifice. In Hebrew, one word for sacrifice is korban. The root of that word is karab, which means to approach or to bring near or to close. What a lovely word, referring to a sacrifice for God! The similar word karob refers to a personal relationship or kinship.
When an Israelite brought an offering to God, surely God was pleased, but that was not the primary reason He commanded it. Presenting korban to God made the giver feel closer to his Creator more than the other way around. He was committing his treasure to God, so his heart followed.
Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. If you invest your money, time and energy into your family, your heart will follow. If you give to and sacrifice for your marriage—even if you don’t “feel like it”—this physical act will actually lead your heart into a deeper love. Your obedience to the way of give will set in motion the wheels of love.
By the same principle, if you constantly make sacrifices for your employer, that doesn’t make him feel closer to you nearly as much as it makes you feel closer to him. Your heart follows your treasure. Over time, you may then find yourself making greater and greater sacrifices for your work. This may or may not be a good thing.
So consider this practical wisdom. If you want to make your love toward someone grow a little, give that person a gift. If you want to make your love grow a lot, sacrifice for him or her.
Maybe there is someone you must have regular contact with whom you have a hard time relating to. Perhaps one of your co-workers really gets under your skin. Try it out: Give him something. Make a sacrifice for him. Not to turn his heart to you, but to turn yours to him. Give, and see if it doesn’t draw you nearer to him. It may not solve the problem completely, but you can be sure it will improve your attitude, which will improve the relationship.
If you had an argument with your spouse in the morning and you feel resentful, do the counterintuitive thing: Pick up a bouquet of flowers on your way home from work. The next time you see her, rather than giving her the lecture you’ve been rehearsing all day, give her a gift she may actually appreciate. Whether or not she does, you’ll find that your sacrifice has done a lot to dissolve your own hostility. Now you are in a far better position to restore harmony to your marriage than you otherwise would have been.
Commit your treasure, and your heart will follow. Don’t wait until you “feel love” before you give or sacrifice. Sacrifice first, and your love will grow. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.