by Pastor Tim Burt
Have you ever thought about the fact that there are some people—some friends in your life, that you treat nicer than they treat you? Does that bother you? Does that make you want to complain or abandon the relationship? Sometimes people get so focused and bent on fairness, that they throw away or destroy good friendships or relationships just because the love and kindness they had shown, wasn’t being reciprocated back to them to the degree they wanted.
To be perfectly honest, my life has been filled with the effort of trying to do good and help people. My mother was that way and it seemed to be a part of my DNA—especially after I gave my life to Jesus! Jesus teaches to move from being selfish to selfless but like everyone else, I am a work in progress.
Yet, I find myself doing things for people all the time and literally, every day. And though I do, the reality is, seldom do I get back from people what I’ve done for them. I have learned experientially that only a small percentage of people are good at giving or showing appreciation. Of course there are some people who are very good at giving thanks or taking the time to write a thank you note or send off an email of thanks or show some form of appreciation. It’s wonderful when people do take note of what you’ve done for them and thank you in some form. But, the percentage of people who do is very small, and yet, most people think they fall into that small group of being good thankers.
But, what about those close relationships—your spouse, good friendships, co-workers, or people who are the recipients of your acts of kindness where it seems like you are doing most of the giving and it’s very one-sided? Well, first of all, that just might be your perspective and it might not be true. They might be adding things to your life in ways you don’t notice. Or, maybe it is true. Maybe they are great at receiving from you but don’t give much back. Then what? Does that mean you should dump the relationship?
Our lives could be and I hope are filled with a diversity of good relationships. In them, you will find great disparity on the amount of appreciation and sincere thanks that people return back to you. But if you’ll do a self-examination, you might find some relationships that you receive more from and give less to. Or you may just realize that God’s has graced you with more of a giving personality than most, and that the imbalance of you giving more than others return back to you, is always going to be a part of your experience.
There are plenty of takers in this world. Some who are narcissistic and only think of themselves. They seem to feel entitled and are seldom thankful for anything. Unless God has directed you to and given you the grace to, you shouldn’t stay in close relationships where someone takes and takes and drains you without giving back. I’ve had a few of those over the course of my life and they are toxic. Takers take advantage of the kindness of others. Though there are few of these people out there, when they do show up and I come to realize they are toxic, I keep them at arm’s length so I’m not used or abused by them. I’ll still be kind. I’ll still show them the love of Jesus. But, I’ll not let toxic people share my everyday space. Some people are easier to love at a distance. Romans 12:18 (NIV) says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” You will just know who those people are in time.
And again, this does not include special assignments from God that He has given you grace for. There are people in the earth who cannot take care of themselves but God gives us the grace to help them with joy. That is our honor!
Though it’s a living reality that many of your kindnesses will be unappreciated, it’s still important to hold onto good people and good relationships. There are some non-appreciators in your life that are still maturing and growing in this area but probably add to your life in other ways. Maybe they add other things to your life that make you value the relationship such as bringing you joy, or making you laugh, or fun to hang with, or being someone you can talk to or count on in trouble. Don’t blow off the relationship because it’s not perfectly fair in the reciprocation of appreciation. Most relationships aren’t perfect or perfectly reciprocal in love and appreciation. But, they do bring value to your life and they are worth having.
For me, I apply the same principle in my relationships that I was taught by the Lord to bring into the workplace. I apply Colossians 3:23 TLB, which says, “Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” I have cast aside the mentality and attitude of doing things for others expecting thanks or reciprocation back. I have put aside looking for perfect friends who always reciprocate love and kindness. Instead I purpose to do what has been my God-given motto for most of my Christian walk. No matter what anyone else does, just do what’s right. I try to love others “as unto the Lord.” If I don’t get some of that back, it’s okay because I know that I also have failed giving it to others at times myself. And I know I’ve also failed at giving it back to the Lord like I should. I also try to remember the good I value and receive from my imperfect friends and pray they see and value things from me.
And here is what really levels the playing field. When we weren’t even thinking about God, He still sent Jesus to be punished and die for our sins. Romans 5:8 (NLT) says, “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” We never return the kind of thanks that this deserves. So, keep on loving others with His love! He sees it. He knows. And there is great blessing from the Lord that comes from this kind of heart!
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV) “…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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