Ever had someone come up to you at a stoplight and offer to wash your windshield?

I remember when I was a kid, and it happened to us when my dad was driving.  He politely declined the offer.  I said, “What?!?  A guy just offered to clean your windshield, Dad!  Why didn’t you let him?”  His response: “Because he was going to charge us.”

My cousin, Tyler, had a similar experience the other day.  While walking the streets of Rome, a guy approached him and made him a bracelet, making polite and engaging conversation the whole time.  My cousin, being a naive teenager, thought the guy was just being nice.  When he was done, the bracelet-making street guy said, “I did you a favor, now you do me a favor.  Give me 5 Euros.”  He pulled a 10 out, to which the guy said, “I’ll take 10!”

A gift quickly loses its appeal when the generosity is removed.

In fact, a gift isn’t a gift if there’s no generosity.  When a gift is attached with an expectation, it’s not a gift.  It’s a transaction.  Which is fine if I’m buying something.  But not if I’m receiving a gift.

When you serve your community, do you do so expecting nothing in return?  Or do you expect that, after you serve somebody, they’re going to come to your church?

When you give “selflessly” of your time and resources, do you secretly expect that there will be a return on your investment?  That, because you gave, they are obligated to give something back to you (in the form of a person visiting (or giving money to) your church, your organization, or your small group)?

It’s okay to hope that the love and generosity you show others will be reciprocated.  But making it an expectation strips a gift of its beauty.

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  –Luke 6:35