What is a gift?
The definition I'm going to focus on is from the perspective of a present, a monetary item, something that requires time, talent and/or treasure.
GIFT: 1. something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; present.
When is something you've given away - a gift - actually a gift?
When you do it without any expectations of getting something - anything - in return - not even a "Thank You!". This is the attitude God had when He gave His only Son - to die for us - so that we would have eternal life. I believe this is the same way He wants us to give to others.
What does that look like?
No strings attached. No expectations on how we think those people (the people we've given stuff / time to) should respond - to what we've done or how they act in the midst of it or even years after.
What is our response or attitude when it doesn't go the way we think it should?
I have been in the thick of this and have learned a whole bunch along the way. I'm not posting this saying that I have arrived and you haven't. This is about me - continually searching my own heart and knowing that I still have much work to do. How do I know this? Because at times, I have given items away and when the item(s) broke or were even sold, I felt contempt, "How could you treat it that way? It was worth $$", as if it were still mine. Or had the thought cross my mind, "Don't you know all that I've done for you?!"
Now if I had given it as a true gift - it becomes theirs and it shouldn't have bugged me so much or more importantly... I shouldn't have let it bug me so much. After all... it is no longer mine.
I have had to ask myself, "Did I give it as unto the Lord?!" Does He ever look at me and question why He gave His life? Does He ever regret it? No, He doesn't. He freely gave and I freely received it.
In order to be free when we give things / time away we need to search our hearts first and ask ourselves, "Why are we doing this?" Are we prepared to give it without any kind of return from them? This means that when we give things / time away we need to give it as if we were giving it directly to the King of kings and Lord of lords.
In general, I think it's safe to say... we have no problem receiving freely... we need to give with the same attitude... freely!! Proverbs 11 talks about the one who is generous will receive more. We all want that, right?! We all pray that more comes to us when we give but it goes on to say that the one who withholds will always be in want.
In my mind, this says two things - 1st of all... do not expect to receive if you are not giving, we live in a world based on seed time and harvest and secondly... giving with strings attached, it is not freely giving and it will only bring heartache and leave you with room to be offended. This is a place of want in my books, a place of actual lack and not increase. A place that will fail you.
I do not want to be bound by the expectations I place on people as a result of a gift I give them. I don't want God to be hindered in being able to bless me freely because I haven't really freely given. I am very thankful for my upbringing and for my very generous parents who taught me how to give and to give freely.
I can't say it's totally been easy - I've failed from time to time in my attitude, thoughts and actions (words) towards people who have mistreated my gift / time or became ungrateful or did things I didn't expect in return. But God keeps me on a short leash when it comes to offense. I've learned that lesson the hard way years ago! To me, the condition of my heart is far more important than my feelings. I have never given something (time, talent, or treasure) to someone or an organization and then asked for it or took it back when a relationship failed, to me that is unfathomable.
If you've donated something or given a gift to someone, make sure you ask yourself, "Did I give it as unto the Lord?!" and remember that He freely gave His life and you freely received it. This is how we're to live this Christian life.
I pray that He continues to help me give things away as if I'm giving them to Him - freely - with open hands and an open heart. Lord God, I know that when I give to You - You will take care of me.
Thank You Jesus for continuing to bring change into my life!
(this was originally posted back in 2007 but I thought it was a good one to resurface)