Perhaps the annual foreign missionary offering is being taken up in your church. The pastor has preached a special sermon, and it has caught fire within you. You find yourself thinking as he preaches, and during the prayer following, "I believe I can easily make it fifty dollars this year. I gave thirty-five last time." You want to be careful not to make it fifty dollars, because you can do that easily. If you are shrewd to have your money count the most, you will pinch a bit somewhere and make it sixty-two fifty. For the extra amount that you pinch to give will hallow the original sum and increase its practical value enormously. Sacrifice hallows what it touches, and the hallowing touch acts in geometrical proportion upon the value of the gift.
Better turn your gown, and readjust your hat, for the sacrifice involved will give a new beauty to the spirit looking out through your face. And real folks will not be able to get past the beauty of face to the incidentals of your apparel. Wear your derby another season, and get your shoes half-soled, and some deft mending done. Let that extra horse go to other buyers, and the automobile be picked up by somebody who has not yet mined any of the fine gold of sacrifice. The coming rainy day will never be able to use up all that some folks are salting down for it.
And yet some folks, many folks, should be spending more on their bodies and giving less. The giving should never intrench upon the strength of one's personality. That is a treasure to be sacredly guarded. All the power of one's life, in serving, in giving, in praying, in speaking, and in personal contact, the power of all roots down in the personality. The safe rule, and the only safe rule, is to decide such questions with the knee-joint bent, and the door shut, and the spirit willing. A strong will played upon by the Holy Spirit, mellowed by emotions that have been moved by the need, and held steady by a disciplined judgment must attend to loosening the purse-strings.
But the one fact being emphasized here just now is that the element of sacrifice must be in the giving if it is to be effective. Sacrifice was the dominant factor in God's giving of His Son, real sacrifice. It was dominant in Jesus' giving of His own self and His life, keen cutting sacrifice. Who will follow in their train? Whoever will, will be getting a post-graduate course in financiering and in multiplying of values. He will be astonished at the results working out, and most astonished at the final disclosures.
Keeping out of circulation more than one's wants, properly adjusted, call for is poor financiering. For that which is held back is not earning anything. All beyond one's needs should be out in circulation for the Master in His campaign for a world. Yet nowhere is there finer chance or greater need for the play of keen judgment than in deciding that question of need. Mistakes are made on both sides. It looks very much as though the most serious mistakes are being made on the side of too little sacrifice or none. Yet clearly some serious mistakes are made on the other side too. But no one may criticise another. Each must decide for himself. In the judgment of charity we are to presume that each is doing what he thinks right and best. We are, none of us, the keeper of our brother's purse.