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.