“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” —John 14:27
Have you ever received a gift with strings attached? “Here’s some birthday money but you have to spend it on this.” Or, “If you reach such-and-such quota, you will be ‘gifted’ with a bonus.” Hmm. Something’s not right here. It feels wrong to use the term “gift” in these conditional ways.
Jesus did not say to his disciples, “My company car I give to you, but I’ll take it back if you don’t reach your ‘healed people’ quota.” He said that he gives not as the world gives—with an eye to a result or a product—but for love, for comfort in the middle of life’s struggles and failures. He promises never to abandon us, even when we’re down to a faint flicker of hope, are depressed, or are feeling lost.
To paraphrase, he’s saying to each of us, “Don’t be afraid. I’m not leaving you. Even when everyone else would walk away or take back what they’ve given you, I will remain faithful to my promise of a lasting peace born of unconditional love.”
When was the last time you felt manipulated or used?
When was the last time you used someone else to get what you wanted?
Have you ever given or been given a “conditional” gift?
Give of yourself in some way. Sweep a neighbour’s footpath, anonymously donate to a nonprofit, or volunteer without expecting anything in return.