And now that I have this song stuck in my head... and hopefully the rest of you do as well (if you don't.... go YouTube it... listen to it... and come back to complain to me that you've got this little diddy stuck up in your noggin...)
My husband's and my twentieth anniversary is just around the corner. Twenty years, 6 kids, and a lot of memories. And as we watch another anniversary quickly approach, I can't help but think back on those we've already celebrated. It's very rare that either of us buy anything for each other. Sometimes a card, or a little gift.... but not very often. And when we do, it's very rare that it's anything expensive. Why? Because I don't believe in giving just because it's expected.
When my husband was working and I was an at-home mom, I'd occasionally leave little notes in his lunch box. Then, when I started working, and he became the at-home parent, if he was sleeping when I left the house, I'd leave him a little note to say "I love you."
There have been times he's come home from a doctor appointment, or from grocery shopping, and would give me a single white rose, or a little teddy bear, for no reason other than he saw something he thought I might like.
This, to me, is what love should be. We shouldn't be expecting an expensive diamond or dinner at a 5-star restaurant - the kind where dinner for two costs more than my entire wardrobe. It isn't about how much money something is. Additionally, we shouldn't be expecting things just because of a particular day of the year. Nor should we give, expecting to get something of equal or greater value. This devalues the gift we give and the one we receive.
To me, this is the same with God. We can't buy God's love. We can't buy it with money. We can't buy it with good works. We can't buy it with any works. Thinking we can, or trying to do so, devalues God's love for us, and also devalues the work we do and what we give.
God gives us His love freely. He doesn't love us because He has to. He doesn't answer our prayers because it's His job. He just simply loves us. No conditions. No strings.
And this is how it should also be when we give of ourselves. We shouldn't be helping our neighbor so as to get into Heaven. We shouldn't be helping our friends with an expectation of them helping back in return. We shouldn't read the Bible or go to church so as to earn a place in God's heart and by His side. There is nothing we can do to bribe our way into heaven, or into God's grace.
When you do something with an expectation of receiving something in return - you're not giving selflessly. When you do something with an expectation of earning a ticket into God's kingdom, you devalue the work you've done in His name. I'd go so far as to say you aren't truly doing the work in His name at all.
Am I saying don't do good works? Of course not! Helping others, and trying to gain a closer relationship with Christ by reading scripture and praying and attending church - these are generally good things. But watch why you do it. It's the intention behind it that determines if you're giving selflessly as God wants us to give; or if you're being selfish, which is essentially a sin.
2 Corinthians 9:7 - Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.