Giving and Investing...in RELATIONSHIPS!
"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends."
~John 15:13 (NIV)
Giving is a necessity in all relationships. But, as by its definition, giving requires no real commitment or connection to the receiver. Giving need not be an investment in the recipient. If the giver receives anything from the receiver of one's gift, it should be personal gratification, nothing more. The expectation of more is directed at GOD, not the receiver! And that is a different discussion, for a different time...
Expectation is where the defining line in relationships manifest between significant and insignificant; intimate and casual; lasting and short term; committed and convenient. There are two sides to the defining line between giving and something else...that something else is investing.
At its best, giving is charity; investment indicates value. The biggest difference between the two being: with giving, one does not have to value the relationship with the receiver of one's gift, they only have to have an expectation that GOD will reward their giving. Investing in someone sometimes involves giving until it hurts. Investment involves consistency and patience to see through to the end result. Investment involves placing faith, hope, value and trust in whatever or whoever is on the receiving end of the offering. And although giving should certainly be a part of all relationships, people will rarely make an investment into those relationships which they place little or no value upon; or in which they have little to no expectation.
Investment involves risk, plain and simple. And the motive behind investment is purely to receive a return on what is given. We invest much more than we would give when we expect something in return from the person or relationship. But with investment, there is never a guarantee of a return, which is why investment, more than anything else, indicates value. If we expect something great, or we value what we have enough, then we take the risk. The concept may seem manipulative and selfish, but let's think about it for a moment: If you want a happy, content and fulfilled spouse, friend, child, business partner, etc., you have to make an investment in the relationship and sometimes that person. Yes giving is required, but sometimes giving is not enough. Often it is easy to give one part of one's self to a relationship but very hard to give what is needed to make the relationship successful. If you want a specific result bad enough, then an investment might need to be made. As the saying goes that you only get out of something what you put into it.
Giving must be done with a clear mind and free of struggle; but many things that are required to develop a fulfilling and happy relationship are not always so. Sometimes forgiving is done after a struggle. That's an investment meant to net a return of peace. Sometimes overlooking a fault is a struggle, even painful. That is an investment meant to net a return of acceptance and harmony in the relationship. Sometimes expanding one's comfort zone is scary. That is an investment meant to net a return of unity and understanding. Sometimes simply making time to cultivate a relationship is inconvenient. That is an investment meant to net a return of quality in the relationship.
Just as we invest in our relationships, so does God invest in us. The Bible says, "So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified." Isaiah 61:3 (NSV) We are His handiwork, His workmanship. And His harvest will not fail because He mercifully, lovingly, and devotedly tends to us with care and anticipation of our manifold fruit. And yet He gave Jesus Christ, His Son, who in turn gave His life; both so generously, so selflessly out of our need and out of no thought for Himself.
How wonderful a relationship balanced in giving and investing, such can not fail! Try it, and expect nothing less than "relationships EVER abiding in LOVE!"
Share with us some of the ways YOU make positive investments in your relationships, and let's keep the LOVE flowing!
~Pouring my life out in Worship, like Costly Oil~