God Accounting - the Joy of Personal Sacrifice
In my endless quest to gain the favour of God, one means by which I try to achieve this is through charity. The bible says we should give 10% of our fruits for this purpose < , but as a business man, who has been struggling for so long to get on my feet, with the intention of giving all my profits to Godís purpose once I reach a certain sustainable level, it was easy to fall into the trap of justification, arguing that I do not have any disposable profits at the moment and that I am investing everything back into the business, in the hopes of reaching that sustainable level that much sooner and when I could really start giving to charity with the greatest joy. But years have passed, and occasionally the times were good. During these good times I would give something to charity, but I still did not attain the sustainable level, and relatively, I guess what I did give to charity was not a great sacrifice. Even worse, during these good times, after working so hard so long, I let myself slide, perhaps spending more time on sports and entertainment, and drifting away from an acute awareness in God, developing a dependence and security on my gaining accumulating wealth, which obviously started becoming more my god. But this is not what God wants of me. For those who do not run a business, I think they can use a similar argument: "Well, I certainly pay enough towards taxes, and I see the various charities the government is involved in, so I am sure my 10% quota is more than covered".
Anyway, what I think it gets down to is a personal sense of self sacrifice. Sure, all the above arguments seem sound enough and justified, for the amount of taxes one often has to pay certainly feels like a sacrifice, but it is not a willing sacrifice. I heard on the radio recently a study which found that giving to charity can greatly reduce stress levels, and is advised by doctors. In our natural pursuit of self betterment, it is often difficult to see the purpose or advantage of sacrificing oneís own personal income or time to charity, but I believe this is one place where one can find the joy of God. It is the joy of giving, and the joy of seeing good fruits from the work of oneís own hands < . If we focus all our energies towards our own self betterment, we can quickly lose grip on that joy, and sink into the indifference, idleness, lose compassion, and eventually the emptiness and depression one feels from a separation from God, without even knowing why.
This is why I have decided to start my own separate accounting, letís say "God accounting", where I would take my own disposable income, which is the money I spend on my own personal purposes (rent, food, entertainment Ė all selfish and survival pursuits), and earmark 10% of that towards charity. Sure, I still hope to give all my company profits to charity once I reach my golden sustainable level, but since it has taken so long to get to this, Iíll at least set aside this amount, which is based on a percentage of what I have been giving myself. If I allow myself more when times are good, Iíll give that much more to charity. But I believe the important thing is that Iíll be giving all the time, and I will be reminded all the time of those who are less fortunate than me, meaning that all the time I will be better able to express gratitude for the fortune that I do have. And feel the joy of giving. People may disgruntle at the thought of giving to charity, like some unpleasant obligation one has to "pay" (I emphasise pay because, technically, you are only giving back 10% of what God has already given you, and keeping 90% for yourself) to gain favour with God and secure a place in heaven, but if you look at the big picture, you will see that God simply wants the less fortunate to be taken care of, and answer to their prayers. God feels joy when he sees that we are taking care of each other and that no one is living in suffering, and I believe it is this spirit of joy we feel when we are actively helping the less fortunate. How many times does one feel greater gratification when they see their loved one open and receive a Christmas present they so carefully picked out and wrapped, as opposed to the gratification of opening and receiving the presents for themselves? Well this joy is so much stronger when you see your good fruits received by those who it truly helps and who need it, as opposed to some commodity which your loved one doesnít really need and only serves to further clutter up their house.
God is always interested in the state of our heart, and our motives. Our sacrifice to him and gratitude for everything that we receive. If we stop feeling gratitude and start relying on our own wealth, like our god, we drift away and lose touch with the Spirit. To our own detriment, even though we may not really perceive it or why. Out of love, God can inflict punishment on us so that we remember him, bring a change in our hearts back to him, and are happier. Trust me, I have gone through this process as many times as the Israelis went through this wrath to redemption process as mentioned in the Old Testament. It is always easy to slide back into this complacence when things are going well for us. By forcing this 10% sacrifice on myself (essentially by obeying one of Godís commands, even though I may not understand the purpose of all of them), I hope that I will be able to keep kindled within me that joy and state of heart that God is aiming for within all of us. It is not a matter of what we have to give to God, like reluctant tribute to a conquering king, but that God wants us all to be happy, and for justice to reign on our suffering planet. After all, do you really think that you are somehow giving to God by giving to charity, or by cutting away the fat of a lamb to throw it on the fire and create a pleasing aroma for God? God is a spirit who does not benefit from material contributions we might offer him. God is a spirit of joy and love who is happy when we are happy, when everyone is happy, and justice reigns the world. The pleasing aroma is our own personal sacrifice as a contribution towards attaining this.
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