I remember seeing an episode of Candid Camera once and they were playing that old trick on unsuspecting people on the street with the $100 bill and the fishing line. People would come along and see the bill in the middle of the sidewalk and just as they bent down to grab the money, someone hidden in the bushes would yank the fishing line attached to the bill and it would disappear. Shock and bewilderment and disappointment and some downright anger would ensue. It was the epitome of a gift with a string attached.
No one likes those “gifts” with strings attached. They really aren’t gifts at all, and there is nothing generous about them. If we’re honest, when all is said and done, wouldn’t we all like to be known as those who are “generous at heart?” Wouldn’t you like to be that kind of person that is so at peace with things that you can give freely with no strings attached? We all know that when we give with those strings attached, it is self-serving and there is no joy in it, really. No, the gifts that fill our hearts up and gladden our souls are those gifts that are unconditional and purely other centered. They are the gifts that are given freely and under no compulsion or with any expectation of repayment. Those who are generous at heart give like that.
My prayer is that those of us in this Cathedral Church family will be truly generous at heart. I want us to be those who give in a way that may be “sacrificial” as far as the world measures things, but in our own hearts is an absolute cheerful delight. Just imagine what it would be like for our community to be like this down to every member. How can that be?
Well, you have heard me say it before. We cannot muster this up in our own strength. We do not have it in ourselves to help ourselves become generous at heart. That said, we can’t just throw our hands up in the air and say, “Oh well, I guess generosity is not for me.” There is a yearning in our hearts to be truly generous, so we must recognize that and hope for it. From where does our hope come? Our hope is from a source outside ourselves. Our hope is in the one who is perfectly generous at heart, and we need to look no further than his most generous act upon the Cross.
Oswald Chambers once wrote, “There is no room for looking on Jesus Christ as a martyr. His death was not something that happened to Him which might have been prevented. His death was the very reason why He came.” Do we recognize the immeasurable generosity of our Lord Jesus who gave his life freely for our sake? He gave all with nary a string attached. Now, this is not simply a model that we follow, but in fact Jesus’ gift of love upon the cross is the very thing that can enable any of us to be generous at heart. If we will trust in His sacrifice upon the Cross and allow his blood to cleanse our hearts, they will be transformed from those that are self-serving to those that give cheerfully and unconditionally. As we receive his perfect generosity, we can’t help but give to Him our love and devotion. We will give as he gives. That’s the Good News, and that is our hope for becoming a Church that is Generous at Heart – no strings attached.
[Dean & Rector]