Giving in Return

Someone once told me, that there was always a bit of self interest in love. Everything in me rejected that… there was unconditional love! To further buttress his point, he pointed out that when love didn’t ‘feel good’, most people opted out. I didn’t believe him, but I could not argue with that. Over the years I have come to have the same opinion about giving.

When I was young, I was taught about sacrificial giving – giving even when it hurts to do so. But how many people practice that? I’ve discovered certain elements present when a lot of people give. They give:

  • Because they have something to gain in return;

– Monetary
– Material
– Regard
– Respect
– The list is endless

  • Because it makes them look good;
  • Because it makes them feel good.

How many people genuinely give, putting the other person’s need before theirs – even when it hurts to do so? I used to think I was one of those people, but now I’m not so sure. When I love someone, I like to believe I can sacrifice a great deal for that person. I have sacrificed dreams and aspirations… whims and desires because I wanted that person’s happiness. I thought it was all completely unselfish until I found myself expecting some sort of sacrifice which hurts (or even simply inconveniences) in return; and feeling hurt and disillusioned when I did not get it.

How unfair. The object (or subject? Not sure which) of my love did not ask me to make whatever sacrifices I feel I made. Nobody required it of me. So it was totally unfair to place the burden of my sole and unsolicited decision on another’s head. But don’t we all do that in one way or another? How many of us are willing to go to great lengths for a loved one and keep going those lengths even when they are extremely unappreciative? Still, I suppose that was what Jesus did.

When I started this post, I was thinking of MY grievances and my unreasonable expectations. But halfway into the post, I began to see how unlike Jesus I was being. If ever there was a bunch of die hard ungratefuls, that’s us. Yet knowing what he did about the sort of people we were (still are), he still went all out for us – giving EVERYTHING… see, nothing was too good to be spared. It all went! Was he expecting anything in return? I guess he could hope. Surely after everything he gave, our love and devotion was not too much to ask for was it? Yet even that, we withhold from him. But see the difference here: Even when loving me doesn’t “feel good”, Jesus is right there still loving me. He’s totally IN for the long haul. Thinking about it makes me feel warm inside me and a little ashamed too. Here I was getting upset because someone would not make a little sacrifice for me and meanwhile I’d been patting myself on the back because I ‘sacrificed’ a year of my whole life for the One who did not hold back his life for me…!

I don’t want to go through this year like that. I should know better; serving God is a rare privilege and not everyone gets that opportunity. I want to work with all my heart and all my soul and with everything in me and not expect anything in return – from man anyway. I can’t help expecting some encouragement from the Lord I mean, after all He called me; I didn’t call myself. Am I contradicting myself? I hope not. I’m trying to figure things out and I would appreciate any help (insights, advice, personal lessons) in the process. In this journey, there are five things I want to learn:

  • To be totally open to God – completely without reservation;
  • To work diligently with everything I’ve got;
  • To work without expecting praise from the people around me (that’s kind of hard);
  • To learn to trust God even when it seems crazy and
  • To learn how to love and consequently give, unconditionally.
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