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Gratitude and Sacrifice

November 20, 2007

At some point in my life I allowed a myth to indoctrinate me. The myth is that if I am generous and sacrificial to others they will return the favor and be generous and sacrificial to me. I find myself getting frustrated at times because I don’t think people appreciate my sacrifices, how messed up I have become. I came to understand that this myth wasn’t true this week.

I wonder if we don’t help build this myth around Christmas time, you know the generous time of the year. We give gifts and yet are we really giving gifts? My family will have Christmas over Thanksgiving, it is the only time we can all get together. We draw names so that we don’t have to buy as many gifts and we purchase gifts in the same money range. Now does anyone hear what I am saying? I give a family member a $25 gift certificate to the place of their choice and then what do I get? You got it, a $25 gift certificate from a place that I love.

My wife shortened the process this year by purchasing what she wanted and just telling me what she bought. Hey she saved the middleman some time. Is that what generosity and giving has become in our culture? More of a trade if anything? What is sacrificial about that?

If I sacrifice for my wife and yet I expect her to reciprocate or at least show gratitude have I really sacrificed anything? Does sacrifice mean I expect nothing in return? I was thinking about what happened to Jesus who was really willing to sacrifice and I decided if I’m really going to sacrifice I can’t expect anything in return. In fact I figured out that true sacrifice should probably expect the worst, nothing like my Christmas expectations.

If I’m going to sacrifice in service I can’t expect that all who receive will respond to the message of Christ. I can’t expect all will even say thanks because only then does it truly become sacrifice.

I just wonder if we as believers have lost sacrifice to trade. We give money to church only because we believe we will see results for us, a better building, more programs or staff to serve our needs and yet we think we are giving. It doesn’t sound much different than my wife purchasing her own gift but I guess if I funnel it through a church I get the added bonus of a tax write off.

What do you think? Is it true and if so what can be done about it?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. benoverby permalink
    November 21, 2007 12:34 pm

    I’m afraid that there’s much truth here and it’s terribly depressing. My family started playing a game called Dirty Santa several years ago. I can’t stand it. Throw a bunch of presents in a pile and then basically everyone attempts to manipulate the others in order to get the best “gift.” It exemplifies our culture. How does this apply to our churches? Since Jesus and Paul people have been fighting for the best positions and gifts. People, at times, use their gifts to manage the kingdom. I’ve been threatened on several ocassions by wealthy people attempting to get their; people who see their “gift” to God (contribution) as a manipulative tool in pushing their agenda.

  2. November 21, 2007 3:31 pm

    Ben, how are things going? I hope well. Thanks for the comments.

  3. November 21, 2007 5:10 pm

    My wife is in charge of the holiday party at Holly Hill this December, and she has let it be known in no uncertain terms that we are NOT playing Greedy Santa this year.

    Ben Witherington’s blog today is about the question of whether or not God is a narcissist. God knew that his sacrifice would not, COULD not be reciprocated. However, it is the natural response of a husband to desire the love of his bride.

    Just some thoughts… glad I stopped by, Darin!


  4. November 24, 2007 5:15 am

    Great post brother as always.
    Keep it up man.
    Your doing a great job.

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