Saturday, January 26, 2008

Giving or Bribing?

I never cease to be amazed by the number of conversations I've had over the years with people who have given a gift to someone or some organization and are disappointed or offended by the shortage of new influence the gift has purchased. Millions of us appear to give with strings attached. We expect something in return. Isn't that called a 'bribe'?

Why do we give? Is it to bless or is it to improve our standing? One is noble, the other is a form of greed, not to mention self centeredness.

I can't count the times I've heard, "After all I've given, he still......" or "I gave her __________ and she hasn't even..... how ungrateful is that?"

What am I supposed to do with comments like that? Sympathize?

I would like to submit that those kinds of comments demonstrate a weakness in the giver more than the recipient. Giving with expectations is not giving at all. Call it a loan. Call it an investment. Call it a bribe. But what ever you call it, if it has strings attached, it is certainly not a gift.

If I understand the Bible at all, I understand that the blessing we receive from giving comes entirely from the giving and is not impacted at all by the appreciativeness (or perceived appreciativeness) of the receiver.

One time, Jesus encountered 10 lepers on the roadside. He immediately had compassion on them and healed them. Nine of them went happily on their way, totally absorbed in their good fortune. One was compelled to return and thank Him. Was Jesus less blessed because 90% of those healed simply kept walking? I don't see any indication of that? His satisfaction came from their new found healing. The fact that one came back was merely icing on an already tasty cake.

I wonder how many of the people shouting, "Crucify Him!" at Jesus' trial were among those multitudes who feasted on His bread and fish miracle by the lake some months before? Did Jesus threaten to skip Calvary because of their lack of appreciation? No, their need, our need, drove Him to keep giving despite potential, and often real, rejection.

Giving is about blessing others. It's about showing our appreciation. It's about many things, but it's never about getting. Whether it's my tithe, a Christmas gift, a card in the mail or helping someone carry a bag of groceries, I always want to check my heart and motives. And when I start feeling aggrieved by the lack of appreciation I'm being shown for all I do, it's time to check MY heart rather than the motive of those to whom I give.

The Lord still loves a "cheerful giver".