Family, Friendship, Practical Living

No Strings Attached

There’s something beautiful about a kind gift. Many of my favorite gifts have been small, but always thoughtful. My favorite dessert just because, a card in my car on a hard day, tickets to my favorite musical, an offer to walk when I’m getting cabin fever, a sweet crocheted afghan, blueberries and ginger ale after I had Ash, a favorite homecooked meal, my bathrooms cleaned, a crib chair redone, the laundry folded, a gift card to get a pedicure, a timely word of encouragement.

I have wonderful people in my life and they know me and because they know me, they can give me wonderful gifts.

I adore gift giving. I like thinking about people and taking notes on the things that they like and giving them great gifts. Some of my favorite gifts to give are: movie tickets, For the Love of Chocolate chocolate boxes, homemade cookies. Most of the best gifts, though, require sacrifice on the part of the giver.

Each day is a gift to those we love. We choose daily to love, serve, and provide for those around us. Nothing is more ugly than a begrudging giver. We’ve all experienced it. Someone who gives you a gift, but you feel like it came with strings attached. Perhaps there are some stipulations with the gift or maybe the person gives you the indication that you need to pay them back. Sometimes the guilt and manipulation can be laid on so thick that you wished they hadn’t given you a gift in the first place. By definition that is not a gift at all.

I’ve been a begrudging giver to my friends and family. I labor with great sacrifice and expect something in return. Instead of choosing to give without expecting anything back, I demand a thank-you for cleaning the baseboards, making a special meal, or changing the baby’s diaper for the 5th time in an hour (not that my husband is not grateful for these things, but it may be a good heart check if you quickly announce things before he notices).

Having a young baby has made me realize how often I serve or give the gift of my time and effort and expect something back. Babies, as sweet as they are, cannot thank you or repay you for changed diapers, midnight feedings, and endless laundry. They aren’t supposed to.

Likewise, it is enslaving to our friends and family to serve them and give them gifts and demand something in return, whether that be a thank you, recognition, another favor done for us, (you know what to insert here). If we are demanding something back, who are we really serving here?
The answer is only ourselves.

My flashing eyes and quick tongue betray my real motivation in gift giving. Many times, I’m not giving anything at all. I’m demanding a transaction. I’ve struggled with this a lot recently as we learn to be a family of three. I constantly expose the selfishness of my own heart. My heart says when will I get to _________ (there are endless things that could be put in this blank). What about me? I fail to believe that giving and serving others really is better than looking out for myself.

Here are some questions that I think are important in exposing sin in this area:

  1. Are you asking for approval, recognition, acceptance, pity, sympathy in return for things that God has given you to do joyfully?
  2. Are you busying yourself with tasks and demanding that others notice how important you are?
  3. Would you still have given the gift or done the task even if no one noticed or thanked you?

God has freed us and empowered us to serve others and give things with no strings attached. Stop demanding for things in return and truly give joyfully to your friends and family.

I’m praying that I will actually learn to believe, sleep, and breathe the following verses:

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” –Colossians 3:18-24

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” –Matthew 6: 1-4

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