M. G. Taylor Jr., Pastor, New Life SDA Church, Gaithersburg, Maryland
Summary: If the Christian can catch a glimpse of God's love then self-interest and selfish motives will disappear, lost in awe and the wonder of it all.
Disinterested—a strange word, an intriguing one. The word immediately raises these questions, "Am I to have no interest in the objectives to which I contribute? Am I to throw my money to the winds, as it were, not caring where, when, or how it is used?"
On the contrary, disinterested benevolence will increase the interest of the giver in the projects to which he contributes because it will free him from the selfish human frailties which so often stifle generous giving.
The dictionary defines the term this way, "not influenced by personal interest or selfish motives." The key word is influenced. The reason why disinterested benevolence is "very rare" in the world today is that personal interest and selfish motives form the basis for most giving; and personal interest and selfish motives are subject to human frailties and faults.
A Story Told
A lady resigned from a school board because of an official action which was not to her liking. It is immaterial whether the decision was right or wrong or whether she took the right or wrong action in resigning. What is important is the act which accompanied it. To quote her words:
"And I quit paying my pledge to the school too!" This is the amazing by-product of the influence of personal feelings in giving.
Without doubt she made this pledge believing that Christian education is important, and with the desire to see some worthy boy or girl benefit from this Christ-centered schooling. But just as soon as her feelings were hurt she not only refused to have anything to do with the school, but quit paying her commitment as well.
Did her decision make Christian education any less important? Did the unfortunate boy or girl need less support now than previously? No. This act hurt a number of people. It worked a hardship on the student who had been benefiting from her generous gift each month. It hurt the school which was having a difficult time making its income cover the costs; but more importantly, it hurt the well-meaning lady most of all.
Soon she lost interest in the position she held in the church and was on the verge of resigning. She found herself toying with the idea of staying home from church. The bitterness in her heart was nourishing a cancer in her soul.
The "I" Syndrome
The road of "giving to things" instead of "giving to God" has many detours. So many church building programs have been weakened or stifled because "they didn't build it the way I wanted it!" "I won't give if brother you-know-who is on the building committee!" "If they put the church on that lot, I won't put in a dime!" "I don't want anyone telling me what I have to give!" There are too many I's in giving to things too much self-interest.
The adversary is a clever one! He will use any method to keep people from giving, or to get them to stop giving. He isn't particular so long as the weeds of selfishness he sows in each heart will flourish and bear the fruits of bitterness, disunity, and self-interest.
Disinterested benevolence stems from a genuine love for God and His gift to humanity. It is not affected by circumstances. It is not subject to the wise or unwise use of the funds given or by the success or failure of the project. Disinterested benevolence permits the donor to give willingly to a project with which he is not totally in accord.
It allows one to give to an activity which may not be operating entirely to the donor's personal satisfaction. In brief, it never allows personal feelings to stifle or diminish the gift. This is giving to God not giving to things.
Jesus is the perfect example. "His life was without selfish interest, but ever marked with disinterested benevolence." EW:269.
Every gift should be measured by the unfathomable Gift of heaven. The greatest offering one could make would then appear as nothing in comparison. This is the key to disinterested benevolence. One must consider the object to which he gives of far more importance than the gift.
"How vain the endeavor to measure with mathematical rules, time, money, and love against a love and sacrifice that is measureless and incomputable!" T4:119.
If the Christian can catch a glimpse of God's love then self-interest and selfish motives will disappear, lost in awe and the wonder of it all. Giving would be to Him not to things. This is disinterested benevolence the object of the gift being of infinitely more value than the gift.