Gift giving can be a dangerous activity, especially if you give gifts to yourself. I am not talking about the present under the tree that is labeled from you to you. I am talking about the gifts you give to others that are really meant for you. Let me explain.
One example is giving a gift to someone for the pleasure of seeing how much you are appreciated. For example, you are feeling unappreciated by your child. You find a gift you think will please her and tip the scales back in your favor. This is where things get murky. You spent money on something you really could not afford, so that she would think you are wonderful. When your daughter is not overwhelmed with your gift, you are hurt. You feel this way because in reality, you were giving the gift to yourself. This sort of gift only brings unhappiness. This is the gift that keeps on hurting.
Another example of giving gifts to yourself is when you give to get something in return. You want someone to do something for you that they really don’t want to do. You give them a gift so that that person will be more inclined to do what you want. This is actually a bribe, not a good idea.
Then there is the example of giving a gift to atone for your poor behavior. You have chosen to spend long hours at work instead of investing time in your family. Or perhaps you have become harsh in the way you speak. Your solution is to give a gift to make up for your actions. Again, this is a gift you give to yourself.
One final example is when gift-giving becomes an obligation. You give because it is expected. So, again this type of gift is one that you ultimately give to yourself.
In summary, if you give in order to gain something, anything, for yourself, then you have not followed Christ but the world. You are giving to get. Giving to yourself brings bitterness, disappointment and unnecessary debt. Free yourself from the burden of giving gifts to yourself.
If the love of Jesus Christ truly is the motivation for your giving then the way someone thinks or feels about you when you give should not be a consideration! Obviously, this does not mean that you would not give careful consideration as to whether your gift would helpful or appreciated. You, of course, want your gift to be a blessing. Your gift should be an expression of delight and gratitude for that individual.
Christ-like love is selfless love. Give to show love, to show appreciation, to show gratitude. Give gifts that bring praise to Christ, not to yourself.
This post originally appeared on Shepherd Press and was republished with permission.
Jay Younts is the author of Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, and he is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is a ruling elder at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.