(image by Dan Johnson)

Logan’s Roadhouse is running a holiday special right now.  Buy a $30 giftcard for a friend and get a $10 giftcard for yourself.

Great deal, right?!?

Great marketing, right?!?

It gets people in their restaurant three ways…once, for the person buying the gift card, once on their return visit (with their $10 giftcard), and once for the receiver of the $30 card.  Brilliant.  And I’m sure they’re going to sell lots of those this season.

I know why.  And it’s not simply because all of your friends love Logan’s.

It has to do with greed.

You see, it’s true that it’s more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).  But our human hearts are dark cauldrons that are deceptive, even to ourselves (Jeremiah 17:9).  And if there’s a way that we can get a gift at the same time we give one, we’re going to do just that.

What’s motivating the sales of these giftcards is the promise that your money won’t be solely spent on someone else.  That the joy you’ll get in giving isn’t simply in serving someone else, rather it’s in  getting a slice of the pie that you’re giving away.  This is a great way to give, expecting something in return.  In that process, you rip the true blessing out of the gift.

I’m not upset with Logan’s in the least.  They have no reason to promote generosity…their goal is to build a successful business, and their principles here violate no laws.  Their practices just happen to play into the tendency of our hearts.  “Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy…” (Ezekiel 33:31)

The Apostle Paul said it well, “…what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15)  As much as we strive for generosity, greed continues to creep in.  In subtle, seemingly insignificant, seemingly generous ways.  Like expecting something in return when you give a gift.

But I believe that it really is more blessed to give than to receive.  I’ve experienced it.  The joy in giving your resources to someone else who can never pay you back is unexplainable.  It’s in those moments that I feel as connected to my Maker as much (or maybe even more than) as any other time.  Because He’s done that for us.  He’s given (and continues to give) blessings “pressed down, shaken together, and running over.” (Luke 6:38)

So this Christmas, try being truly generous.  Give.  Share.  Sacrifice.  And don’t expect anything in return.  Not a return gift.  Or a returned hug.  Or even a “thanks.”

You’ll get your payment.  It’ll be in the form of joy.

Have you ever been given a gift, but known it wasn’t given out of a generous heart?

How are you serving someone this Christmas, expecting nothing in return?