How do you know whether you should stop giving or whether there's cheerfulness in your giving?

Check your heart. Now check it again. You shouldn't have to check it more than once or twice because you already know. Really. You do. Did you grumble on your way there? On your way home? Did you have to take a deep breath before you walked in? Did you have time/make time to do your homework? Did you miss it deeply last week when you couldn't go?

Those sort of things help us gauge the condition of our hearts toward giving.

But more importantly they identify the depravity of our hearts.

No, this isn't a post on how we ought to be convicted that we grumbled about parents being late to pick their kids up from church nursery or how we're always being asked to do a task that someone else could probably do just as well. This is not really a post about conviction at all.

This is one about assurance.

An absolute assurance that our hearts are depraved. Desperately wicked, who can know them?

Even we, with our heart checks above, can we know our own hearts?

I don't think we can. I think the only thing I can know with full assurance is that my heart is always going to be bent on going the wrong direction. And that even when there is a small portion of me that finds joy in the giving, there will always be something else more shiny, more attractive that I'll want to strive to give instead.

This is why Jesus wants our hearts and I'm convinced that when we identify ourselves with Him alone, we begin to find joy in the most unexpected places. Cheerfulness will creep in, unannounced and root deeply in us. Relinquishing joyless tasks that have been our drudging responsibility for years will feel easy and seamless as we pass them on to someone else who wants the job, and will probably do a better job of it, or at least find more joy in it.

He is the author of our joy and who are we to assume that He doesn't want to give it to us?