I have an Aunt who sends birthday cards to probably hundreds of people every year. I have no idea how many because she never talks or boasts about it. She just loves to give cards to people on their special day. I’m 52 years old, and she’s never missed sending a card on my birthday. I rarely send her a birthday card, and still, she doesn’t stop sending. In fact, when I married Keith he was automatically added to her list. She exemplifies the heart of a pure giver and receiver.
Regardless of her life circumstances, she still gets those cards in the mail. When I think about role models of pure intentional giving and receiving, my Aunt ranks among the top.
Why would I include her in receiving? Because if she didn’t have a pure heart as a receiver, she would stop sending cards to those who do not reciprocate on her birthday. She gives without strings attached without an expectation of something in return.
A Distorted View of Giving
Sadly, in many cases, the act of gift-giving is degraded to an obligation, selfish quid-pro-quo, or necessary only to supply a need.
I used to ask with great anticipation, “What would you like for Christmas?”
The typical response, “I don’t need anything.” or “Don’t get me anything; it will make me feel bad.” WHAT? Why in the world would a gift make someone feel bad vs. good?
I walk away, scratching my head, knowing that my mere suggestion of a gift is received with negativity. How can that be?
Another reaction is, “Why bother? What can I get a person who has everything?” How odd is that? First, no one has everything, but more importantly why would the act of giving have a condition on a person’s current abundance?
Finally, the quid-pro-quo response, “Why should I give that person a gift, they never return the favor.” Giving from a pure heart never expects a gift in return.
In each scenario, giving is devalued away from a simple act of loving kindness into the following distorted views:
- Scarcity mindset, only give to supply a basic need
- An obligation
- Comparing or competition
- Selfish motives or quid-pro-quo
**Let’s be clear, I’m not including charitable giving to those in poverty or other needs in this article. That’s an entirely different matter.
The Cause: Worldy Views of Giving
The explanation is a lack of knowing what Jesus teaches us about giving. In that case, it’s easy to get fooled by societal views focused on comparing ourselves to others when a gift enters the scene.
The world view of giving is perverted in multiple ways. The gift represents the have’s and have nots or more vs. less. As a receiver, inferiority and jealousy rise up in opposition to the present or the mere suggestion. They are blinded to the motives of generosity, kindness, love, and simple appreciation for them.
Quid-pro-quo and obligatory giving stem from a selfish heart or a “what’s in it for me” attitude.
The above examples of thinking do not align with God’s ways, resulting in resentment, anxiety, and feeling jaded towards giving and receiving. A worldly view destroys the true meaning of giving.
Realize, a receiver who disregards or rejects a gift of any kind for any reason robs the giver of their joy and rob themselves of feeling love and kindness.
It breaks my heart.
Be a Giver & Receiver God’s Way
Jesus is the greatest gift to mankind, and yet we cannot repay Him. We cannot “one-up” the Lord on His blessings. We can thank Him, praise Him, and live a life to glorify Him, but we can never repay him. Isn’t that how He teaches us to behave towards one other? Simply be grateful, say “thank you,” and love one other, which is how we glorify Him.
I recall the story of the wise men traveling a vast distance to provide frankincense and myrrh to baby Jesus. Why would a baby need such gifts?! Do you think Joseph and Mary felt terrible because they didn’t have anything to give the wise men? Not even a fruit cake?
According to the Biblical Magi – Wikipedia, the three gifts had a spiritual meaning: gold as a symbol of kingship on earth, frankincense (an incense) as a symbol of deity, and myrrh (an embalming oil) as a symbol of death.
With pure hearts of giving, the wise men used meaningful gifts to express their love, respect, and honor for Jesus. No strings attached.
When I think about the most precious gifts that I receive, I reminisce about life experiences, letters, and undoubtedly a few sentimental objects. I don’t have many trinkets in my treasure chest. Still, I hold dear the hand-made cards from my Niece and Nephew, along with other keep-sake cards, letters, and mementos from various life events.
Gifts should never induce negative emotions regardless of the material object. It merely means someone cared enough to spend their time, energy, and perhaps their money to extend an act of kindness your way. Give and receive with a grateful and cheerful heart. No strings attached.
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.2 Corinthians 9:7
I wonder if the way we view giving and receiving with others represents how we give and receive gifts delivered from God. Look for my next blog, “The Heart of a True Giver & Receiver Part 2,” where I discuss this further.
God bless! – Teresa XOXO
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