by Paul Gilbert
Our second oldest, Maggie, has recently begun to learn the lost art of Contra Dancing. Maggie’s class at school has just finished reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and the faculty there wanted the class to experience contra dancing as it was done in the 19th century. Personally, I was absolutely overjoyed when I heard the news. As many of you know, (because I have proudly confessed it), I am a long time fan of Pride and Prejudice and a BBC junkie when it comes to Jane Austen.
One of my favorite scenes takes place in the Bingley home where a country dance is hosted. It is there that that Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett finally set aside their ‘pride’ and their ‘prejudice’ to dance together. It is a romantic scene. It is poignant. Jane Austen uses these intricate and finely choreographed dances beautifully in her storytelling. The harmonious steps that one must make with a partner provide a beautiful picture of human relationship.
You know, our hearts and generosity are like two partners in a Contra Dance: they are finely tuned to one another, dancing step by step. They are the Mr. Darcy and Miss Bennett, if you will, of our spiritual health. Jesus puts it like this in Matthew 6:21, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Generosity is the dance partner of our hearts, finely tuned with the motivation and condition of our souls. Our hearts gravitate towards our financial priorities, and our financial priorities in turn provide a window into our hearts. They are hopelessly intertwined and we are wise if we pay attention to these as a couple. We get insight for the one from the steps of the other.
Where does the Apostle Paul want to take us these next three weeks in II Corinthians? Quite simply, he wants to teach us the steps to this dance of generosity. While this certainly involves looking at our financial giving, it transcends money to include a generosity of our gifts, our service, our time, our engagement, and our priorities. Generosity is what connects us to the people around us.
The dance has started. The music is playing. Let’s see how the Lord teaches our steps this week as we open His Word this Sunday.