Posts Tagged ‘gift’

What makes a gift, a gift?

A GiftI was wondering the other day about gifts; we give and receive gifts a various times, Christmas, birthdays and the like and I got to wondering what it is that makes a gift, a gift.

Now that may seem quite obvious, if we give something to somebody else then it is a gift, but I have to ask, is it?  If I go into a shop and say to the shop keeper “please may I have a pack of AA batteries please” the shop keeper will most likely hand me the pack of batteries and reply “that will be £2.99 please”.  Now you could argue that the shop keep has given me some batteries, a gift, but I doubt that you would, I imagine you will be saying that I had bought the batteries because I paid for them.  So here I think we have the first principle of a gift; a gift is one sided affair, it is given without expectation of anything in return.

First principle: a gift is given without expectation of anything in return.

Now let’s consider another aspect of the giving of gifts.  If I was given a carrot and told that I must feed it to my donkey would this still be a gift?  It certainly passes the first test as there is no mention of any expectation of something in return but it still somehow feels as if it is lacking something, and I think that something is freedom.  What I mean by freedom is the idea that once a gift has passed from the one giving to the one receiving then the gift should be free from any constraint, when the giver specifies its use the gift becomes entangled in strings and is no longer free.  Don’t get me wrong I can see why we put these constraints on gifts, we often feel that the recipient won’t make good decisions about how to use the gift and as such we ‘help’ them to use it wisely.  But adding all those strings takes something away from the gift that to me makes it less of a gift so I think it good for true gifts to be free.

Second principle: a gift should be free of strings, the recipient makes the choices.

So we have an idea of what makes a gift, a gift, and that got me thinking again about gifts that I have given and received over the years and how often these have, or have not, been a true gift.  How often do we give because we have received, sort of the reverse of the first principle, but if we are honest it is really the first principle.  How often have we said “that’s the last time I give them a gift, they didn’t even say thankyou”, which whilst it is nice to receive a thankyou that isn’t really the essence of the gift.

It’s shortly after Easter as I write this and my children have received Easter eggs from various people and I am fairly certain that they were true gifts, but Easter isn’t really about chocolate eggs, as much as they are quite tasty, it’s about a gift that matches all of the criteria above.  Jesus willingly, of His own free will, without us deserving, without expectation of a reciprocal gift, without compulsion to act in a certain way, gave up His place in heaven, came to earth as a man and paid the price that we could not pay to give us the give of everlasting life with Him in heaven.  Now you might say that Jesus expects us to worship Him in return for this gift, but for me that is the wrong way of looking at it.  The right way of looking at it is that we choose to worship Him because of His unbounded love for us, it is our response to His gift and not His expectation of us in giving the Gift.

Third principle: It is for the recipient of a gift to choose to express joy and thanks and not the giver to demand it.

As recipients of gifts is it not joyous to respond with a thankful heart? Of course it is, but it is the recipient of the gift who expresses this and not the giver who demands it, this is my third and final principle.


Read Full Post »