Do You Give Expecting to Get?

(Luke 14:12-14)

There is a saying in this world that goes, “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” What it means is that if you do something for me I will likewise do something for you. It’s all about receiving in return what you give to others. This is part of the wisdom of this world, but it is not the wisdom of God as we see in this scripture.scratch my back

Do Unto Others

Most people know the scripture commonly called the Golden Rule. It says that you should, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Often this is mistakenly read as by doing unto others you can expect to receive good yourself.

Now while this may indeed occur it should not be an expectation. If you read the Golden Rule again it does not say that you will receive anything in return. What it speaks about is what your attitude and behaviour should be like. You need to have the attitude of treating people the way you would like to be treated, whether you receive anything in return or not.

Back Scratching

When a person does something for another with the expectation of receiving something in return (ie. you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours), then the receipt of whatever it is in return is their payment and just reward for doing what they did. That is then the end of the matter.

The Lord teaches us though that it is far better to give than to receive for when we give without expecting to receive anything in return we have done something good. We have done something better than receiving.

In this world though the focus is not on giving but on receiving. Everyone is looking for a gift and there is an expectation built up in peoples minds from birth that they should expect to be given things at certain times and on certain occasions. And much of this is also driven by the expectation that they too have to repay every gift received with a similar gift at other times. Just think about the occasions when gift giving is virtually mandated like Christmas, birthdays and other anniversaries and special events.

There is nothing wrong with giving the gifts, but it is the attitude and expectation that is the problem, driven by the “back scratching” attitude of the world and fed by commercialism and marketing. This should not be so.

Receiving God’s Blessing

Then we see the approach of the Lord in this scripture in Luke 14 where he adds to the principle of the Golden Rule. Here we see Jesus saying to the man who was holding the banquet, that when he threw a feast he should open his doors to the poor, lame, maimed and blind. In essence he should invite the underprivileged of the world.

These people did not have the means or ability to repay the kindness given them. And because they could not repay and nor should the man expect repayment, he would receive a blessing from God for the good that he did.

This is the essence of the scripture. It is also the essence of the Golden Rule and the reason why the Lord taught that it is far better to give than to receive. When we give without expecting anything in return we receive the blessings of the Lord and that is far better than being invited to someone else’s party in return for their invitation. Or giving a gift because of an expectation that you would receive something in return.

We may not immediately see the blessing of God but you can be certain that it will be received. It may be in the form of the way people think and speak of you in the here and now. Or it may be that you will hear those most wonderful words from the Lord on the Day of Judgement, “Well done good and faithful servant.” Or it may be something else.

Whatever the outcome, the promise of the Lord contained in this scripture is that when you do unto others without expecting anything in return you will be blessed. Especially when this is given to those who are not able to repay and this is right to do. Even under the law of Moses there was an expectation that in the tithes that were given the poor and the underprivileged would be invited and provided for.

This is an important and valuable reminder for us all. Let us all then seek how we can do good to other and thus receive the blessing of the Lord.

In the comment section feel free to let us all know how you can apply this teaching so that we can all learn and grow.

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7 Replies to “Do You Give Expecting to Get?”

    1. Hi Annie. My last name is “Lemmon”
      Can you tell me what the essay is about so I can understand briefly how the information is being used?
      Thanks & God bless.
      John Lemmon

  1. My wife struggles with this in a huge way. She says in her culture when you give someone something they are expected to do something in return to show gratitude or they are thought of as selfish and are in effect shunned. This attitude spills over into almost every part of her life, and while she is a sweet spirit and believes she is very generous, if she doesn’t recieve something in kind she is very critical of the person. This has been evident in her relationship to my daughters, my friends from before we met, and even I am criticized because I don’t show the same intensity of love back to her that she shows me. I’ve spent the last year hearing her tell me that I loved my ex-wife more than I love her because I don’t criticize the ex and because I didn’t want that marriage to end so that I could get to the marriage God truly wanted for me. She loves God very much, but I believe her upbringing and life experience has taught her that she must be repaid with lavish praise and/or gifts in return when she is generous with other people. We’ve had some pretty heated arguments about this topic and while I see some movement toward having less heated arguments, I still see this selfish giving in her that demands repayment for gifts she gives to others.

    1. Hi Denis,
      Thanks for your comment.
      When battling a cultural related issue it can be very difficult. As your wife (and yourself) grow closer to each other in the Lord you should come to an understanding with each other. There are lessons for both of you to learn to overcome the arguments and issues. First you both need to understand the implications of the word that says, “In all things I have shown you that by so toiling one must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” (Acts 20:35) Your wife has a “weakness” that is caused by her culture…the expectation of getting something in return when she gives. She needs to understand that the blessing is in the “giving” not in the “receiving.” When we give freely, without expecting anything in return we are following the way of the Lord. If we do get something in the return, then we should share in the joy of the one who is the “giver” for they are doing something for us.

      In you rcase, you need to walk in love with her, understanding that she has this issue. Give her what she needs and then help her to see the light. While you do not do this, you are building walls and barriers that will be hard to break later. And if there is a barrier, how can you discuss the way of Christ which is the way of love. If her issue is a cultural issue, it will be deeply ingrained and it may take a long time for her to see things differently. If it is not hurting you or anyone else to give her the assurances, praise or gifts that her culture expects, then do it. But if it means that you must take something away from someone else to do this, then in love explain this and discuss it with her. For example, if you had to spend money you don’t have to buy an expensive gift rather than pay bills or buy food and clothing for your children, then you are not walking in love with her or the children.

      Its a tough situation & I will pray for you both that the Lord will give you both insight.

      God bless…John

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