Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. —Phil 2:3-4
Jesus didn’t do things for others because he wanted their “thanks” or appreciation. As a matter of fact, he was often unappreciated. Did he stop doing the right thing, blessing people, or helping them because they didn’t receive those things the way he’d like them to?
No. He loved them and served them because of who God is, and because they were made in His image. Not because of who they were or how they responded to Him.
He kept healing… blessing… being who He was created to be because He loved them—even when they didn’t thank Him.
If our goal is to be like Jesus, we have to remember that if we do things for others with selfish motives, we aren’t really doing anything for THEM—we’re doing it for US.
Whatever you do, work at it wholeheartedly as though you were doing it for the Lord and not merely for people.—Colossians 3:23 ISV
The Bible goes one step further and says we should do for others as if we are doing for God Himself. It doesn’t, however, say that if we do “as unto the Lord” that others will follow suit.
So many people do nice things in order to receive. To receive accolades, a pat on the back, or some sort of return on their investment. I know I’ve been guilty of that… While that might not seem like a bad thing – ROI is GREAT when it comes to money! – it can be very bad, indeed.
What happens when you hold the door for someone who just walks by and doesn’t say thank you? Do you (even briefly) think, “what a jerk!” or that their parents must have been wolves?
What if you give someone a gift and they don’t seem to care, or they even tell you they don’t like it? Do you regret giving it to them, or maybe want to poke them in the eye?
Whoa! How did we go from wanting to be kind to considering homicide so fast? #thatescalatedquickly
At the point that you allow someone’s reaction to make you regret your generosity, you’ve realized the selfish nature of your actions.
Why were you holding the door? To do something nice, or to receive thanks? Why did you give the gift? To bless that person, or to be praised?
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy,and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.—Matthew 6:19-21
When you allow yourself to be kind and generous to others without expecting anything in return, you remove the possibility of being offended by their actions in response to yours. You maintain control of your own feelings instead of handing them over to, in the case of holding the door, a complete stranger.
It is worth saying that handing control of your feelings over to ANYONE, even a loved one or spouse, is a bad idea. It’s called self control for a reason. YOU are the one who should control your SELF.
Letting someone else decide how you feel is bad, mmkay? And trying to control their decision about how they’ll make you feel is worse. Are you pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down?
The expectation that someone else will respond to your kindness in any particular way is actually a form of manipulation and it is completely unfair to that person (not to mention unrealistic).
Is it logical/reasonable to believe you’ll receive a “thank you” when you do something nice? YES! Absolutely. But when the absence of the thank you makes you wish you didn’t do it, it’s also reasonable to posit that you didn’t do it for them, you did it for what you expected them to do for you.
Like I said, I’ve certainly had to check myself on this very expectation.
It is so hard not to be offended when people don’t respond to my kindness or generosity the way I think they should. (What is WRONG with them?!?) I’ve definitely uttered a rude “you’re WELCOME” to people who never said “thanks,” and I’ve thrown in people’s faces what I previously did for them when they didn’t come through for me the way I thought they should.
I’m a work in progress.
When I remember that I’m not giving to others in order to glorify myself (or to get them to glorify me), but to glorify God, and that I don’t need to be praised by man to know who I am in Christ, it is much easier to pray for them, praise Him, and move along in the fruits of the long-suffering Holy Spirit.
“While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions.” Stephen R. Covey
I challenge you to consider your motivation the next time someone responds to your kindness or generosity in a way you didn’t expect or desire. Instead of getting mad (or getting even), try GETTING OVER IT. IMMEDIATELY. And then do some more good.