Giving Freely

, by Christopher D. Hudson

For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. 

[[The following is an excerpt from the A Teen's Guide to the 5 Love Languages. Thanks to Moody Publishers for the permission to reprint the following]].

A gift is a tangible object that communicates “I was thinking about you. I wanted you to have this. I love you.”

This is universal and timeless. Anthropologists have never discovered a culture in which gift giving is not an expression of love. Giving gifts is one of the fundamental languages of love.

Some gifts only last for a few hours. Remember picking a dandelion (or your neighbor’s tulips) to give to your mom? The gift quickly wilted, but the memory has undoubtedly stayed with your mom for years. Other gifts endure for a lifetime, even outlasting the giver—your grandmother’s simple gold wedding band or your grandfather’s type from his printing press. What’s priceless is not the gift itself but the emotional love that was communicated by the gift. The right gift is any token, big or small, that conveys the giver’s love.

Our English word gift is derived from the Greek word charis, which means “grace” or “an undeserved gift.” By its very nature, a gift is not payment for services rendered. When someone offers, “I will give you __________ if you will __________,” this person is striking a deal, not offering a gift. A gift has no strings attached—if it does, it ceases to be a gift.

Nor is a gift a substitute for an apology or restitution. You can’t cheat on your girlfriend and then buy her flowers. Roses don’t cover a multitude of sins. You can’t scream at your brother and then buy him a Frappuccino to make it up to him. You can’t break curfew but unload the dishwasher and expect your relationship with your mom to be kosher. A gift is a gift only when given as a genuine expression of love, not as an effort to cover over past failures.

A gift is a visual symbol of love. The gift can be any size, shape, color, or price. It may be purchased, found, or made. To the individual whose primary love language is Gifts, the cost of the gift doesn’t matter. You can purchase a designer card or make a homemade card from recycled paper—as long as it reflects your thought and the recipient’s taste, then it’s meaningful.

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