Tit for Tat??

Tit for tat is an abbreviation for this for that and can be summed up by saying I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine. It can also mean I’ll get you if you get me, but it’s most often used to describe getting what I want by giving you what you want.

Christ was not a tit for tat sort of guy. He didn’t give so He could get because He knew that cycle is an unending one that leaves everyone feeling empty. God sent Jesus because He loved us. Love never involves tit for tat and doesn’t keep an account of who’s ahead in the giving department. Love only sees love. God is love, so it follows that He only sees love. Obligation and obedience are often found together, but they do not belong together. The toxic relationship they form spreads venom faster than the bite of a viper. Christ feels the effect it has upon His body, and it breaks His heart.

Jesus gives His take on giving in Luke 6:37-38.

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” (NLT)

His words may sound like tit for tat, but they go far deeper than giving to get. They involve a change of heart. They are not about giving out of guilt, fear, obligation, or a desire to get. They are about giving based upon love. Love doesn’t judge; it doesn’t condemn; it forgives and gives. When I learn that beautiful truth, I give with a new heart and receive far more than I ever imagined possible.

I suppose it is human nature to want a fair return on investments or to get tit for tat when it comes to money and time spent. Jesus offered a new way of living and giving that opens hearts and fills them with peace. Peace isn’t about even trades or great portfolios. Peace is sweet contentment that fills a heart beautifully poured out in love.

Earlier in Luke 6:32-36 Jesus reminds us that God’s way of loving and giving is not like ours.

“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” (NLT)

Thinking of the way God loves and gives makes me look at the way I love and give. If I am to nudge nearer and be more like Christ, I must let love be at the heart of all my giving. It is the heart of Christ’s message, and it must be the heart of mine.

A Grateful Heart :)

God’s grace fills my heart with the desire to worship Him with humility and gratitude. Thanksgiving is a time to stop for a moment and give thanks for God’s love and grace. Like Christmas, the world complicates Thanksgiving in attempts to make it something other than what it was intended to be.

The Chickasaw in me has mixed feelings when it comes to the holiday and would like for it to be about accepting differences and understanding that we need those differences. I believe that was at the heart of the first Thanksgiving. We cannot make it in this world without help. As those early Native Americans came to learn, giving someone a hand often leads to them taking a leg, an arm, and a heart.

I suppose it is all part of human nature, but Thanksgiving is a time to think of thanking in a new way. We gather to remind ourselves that we have been given much and we are here to give. The lessons this year have helped me when it comes to giving. My giving has been unhealthy and left me depleted. I’m learning to give in a different way, and I’m finding that I am blessed and filled by healthy giving. I’m most thankful this year for the lessons in giving and the changes in my heart that have resulted.

Thanksgiving is about helping and giving my heart to those in my path. I’ve learned hard lessons, as have we all, when it comes to helping. I’ve been duped and taken more times than I care to recount. In those situations, I remember the first Thanksgiving. The intentions were good, and hearts were in one accord as they were all in the same boat. Giving is about knowing that we are all God’s children and in the same boat. I’ve learned that it isn’t about fixing and fusing. That’s changed the way I give and live:)

Gathering at church this morning and with my family this afternoon will remind me to be grateful for the love God has placed in my path. I hope I will also remember and give thanks for the fact that we are all beautifully different and bring something special to His table. God needs for me to love others, differences and all; that is at the heart of Thanksgiving. Knowing that God is in all and loves all makes the holiday truly a holy day as I see others as God sees them and give as He desires.

The lessons of late have left me speechless and filled with wonder. They remind me of an image from years ago when God showed me that Christ is a beautiful mosaic made up of all His sweet children. At a distance, I see my loving Savior. As I draw nearer to His side, I see others in Him. That changes the way I look at the world, and it changes the way I see God. We are all His beloved, and I am thankful for Christ’s precious love which binds us together in a way that only it can. It fills my heart and spills over into the world if I leave it alone and let it flow through me with the help of the Holy Spirit:)

Happy Thanksgiving, and God bless you in a beautiful way today:)