Is A Gift Always A Gift?

giftWhat happens when you give a no-strings-attached gift and the person to whom you gave it takes advantage of you by misusing the gift?

Okay, that’s kind of convoluted. Let’s break it down.

First, let’s define “gift.” In its purest form, a gift is offered with no strings attached. That’s really the only way it’s a gift. Otherwise it’s a transaction, payment for services rendered. “If you do that, I’ll hand you this.”

Transactions work as long as everyone understands both sides of the contract. I think we tend to muddy the waters when gifts arrive with unintended dangling threads.

A few weeks back I offered a gift, and the guy who received my generous gift let me down. He didn’t come through, didn’t do what I figured he’d do with this marvelous, life-changing gift. (You’re getting the sarcasm, right?)

Yeah, and you’re thinking the same thing I’m thinking—what happened to “no strings attached”?

I’m learning that I’d better count the cost a bit more carefully before I give a gift. I suspect my heart’s not as pure as I’d like to believe when it comes to the non-conditional nature of my gifts.

How often is a gift really an attempt to manipulate or coerce?

Is there an expected-but-unspoken “obvious” response? Women experience this sort of “gift” frequently—the guy buys you flowers and an expensive dinner, and we all know how you’re supposed to respond.

The intent doesn’t have to be evil. If I hand my atheist friend a bible, is it truly a no-strings-attached gift?

Will I feel disappointed, angry, or resentful if the gift is used differently than I imagined?

Do I expect you to feel grateful, perhaps even that you owe me something in return? Suppose you decide to sell it or put it in a closet—will I be okay with your choice?

If I’m still attached to the gift, perhaps I wasn’t ready to give it away.

Gratitude’s nice, but obligatory gratitude…?

If I want to know a gift will be treasured, respected, and valued, I’d better make sure I know the recipient well enough to hand over that level of trust.

Trust, with anyone, involves some level of risk. Instant trust with a stranger, I think, really means trusting God for an outcome you may not see.

So what about the guy who “disappointed” me?

  • I want to let go of my disappointment. My unspoken expectation, my problem.
  • I want to pray for him because he’s struggling. His decision wasn’t about me or my silly gift.
  • I want to trust and expect that this gift wasn’t wasted. God’s using this interaction for good.

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I’ll bet you’ve been disappointed by the way a gift was received, perhaps by a child, a friend, or a loved one.

How does my incident relate to yours? Do you  see anything with which you agree or disagree?

Please leave a comment here.


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