“But just as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us — see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”
~2 Corinthians 8:7 (NIV).
Gift-giving is at times a tricky business. We’re loath to give anything that might have us tarred with the brush of being conditional givers; to regret giving what we gave. If we give, we give with all our being, with no recompense in mind or heart.
That’s the biblical imperative ushered to the Corinthians via Paul: to give and to do so cheerfully.
Ever Been Called to Account for the Receipt of a Gift?
We’ve all suffered from others calling us to account for our use or thankfulness of a gift they gave us. It made us feel horrible and perhaps betrayed. We received the gift in good faith, being that it was a gift; ours to use or dispose of as we chose. And then we find out later, to our deranged sense of disappointment, that the giver of the gift had expectations unsaid at the time.
They perhaps expected ‘gifts’ in return or they wished for us to use the gift in a particular way, or imposed some other condition, which wasn’t spelt out when we received it.
How many relationships have soured because of this? Some of which have never recovered.
The Grace in True Giving
Grace and giving are truly one and the same — there’s nothing about receiving anything in return about either word or concept. They’re limitless concepts. Both occur due to the emergent and urgent love the person has; to give without thought to conditions or expectation that might otherwise be attached.
Is it hard to give like this?
Not at all, if our hearts are fitted to God and not to ourselves. Once the gift is given it’s gone. It never existed. It was never ours. It was never ours to begin with. We simply managed the transaction, and in this we see that any glory truly does go to God.
Giving gracefully — i.e. without even the slightest encumbrance — is without doubt the biggest, most fundamental test of our hearts as they rest in God.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.