This was originally posted on 12/21/2012
Is it truly a gift if you expect something in return? My initial thought is no. Absolutely not. When I think of a gift, I think of a desire to give something to someone simply because of your love for that person. No stipulations, not pressure because of some holiday or calendar-based celebration; you just want to get someone something. Sometimes that last part is the mental justification we come up with for the purchase of a gift, as to not look a certain way. Perhaps love isn’t the main theme you want advertised as the reason at that point. Either way, it’s not for a return. To me, that’s what a gift is. The Bible tells us that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
So where is the discrepancy? Well, I know that we call salvation a gift. Romans 6:23 tell us that the gift of God is eternal life. It is difficult enough to believe God would do that for us; it’s even more difficult for us to believe He did it with no other motive—no expectation of return—simply out of love. The Bible supports this thesis. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). As over used as that scripture seems, it really does support the thesis, because it states that salvation is a gift from God and that His motivation simply was love.
But what about the parable of the fig tree? As Jesus neared Jerusalem, He stopped off in Bethany and went to a fig tree looking for fruit. The tree had no fruit and He cursed it, saying that no fruit would ever grow on it again and it immediately withered. Is there not a parallel here where we are the tree and if we do not bear the fruit of salvation in our lives that He is totally justified in cursing us, causing us to wither? And if so, is that not an expectation on the return of His gift of salvation?
That’s actually a side note and not the primary focus of what I wanted to talk about. The thing that I’m having difficulty with is what I perceive involving gifting. Specifically the spiritual gifts He bestows upon us. 1 Corinthians 7:7 tells us that we each receive a gift from God and chapter 12 talks about different gifts of the Spirit He bestows upon us. These are all gifts freely given.
But are they honestly gifts with no expectation of return? What about the lesson of the talents? The one with ten made ten more, the one with five made five more and the one who returned with only the one talent he was given had his taken from him and given to him that had ten. This illustration, which is repeated, several times in the New Testament, sometimes in different forms, teaches that there is an expectation of return on what we have been given.
Perhaps that was David’s motivating thoughts behind Psalms 51:11.
So, is a gift something given simply out of love, or can it have a co-requisite? Our spiritual gift is called gifting which would imply they are gifts. But as I understand the New Testament, those particular gifts come with an expectation of return. I have lived my life on the understanding that if I do not use the gifting He has bestowed on my, He is fully capable of taking them back from me. Because I am His, He owes me nothing, and everything that is mine is His because I was bought with a price.
So then another question arises; can we, who were bought by Him, truly receive a gift if a gift has no expectation of return, since we no longer have the “right” to own anything for ourselves? Considering we were purchased, kind of like a slave at an auction, can anything truly be ours?
Just something to think about, since the world ends today.