If there’s one thing relationships have taught me lately, it’s that I struggle with giving and mostly when it pertains to my time.
One central and crucial part in loving others is learning to give of ourselves. That means we give our time, our energy and our resources when our sinful natures want to keep it all for ourselves. For consistency, I have reservations asking others to make sacrifices for me and have an even harder time accepting those sacrifices.
I’m fiercely loyal to those I love, but even in that loyalty, I find it hard to do favors sometimes. I struggle when someone asks for even a small chunk of my time because it might conflict with something I planned to do. Even if it doesn’t conflict with anything in particular, there’s that inkling of a feeling that maybe it will. Or maybe it conflicts with something someone else wants, and so I struggle with trying to keep the peace.
I struggle when someone asks me to do something that isn’t unreasonable but involves asking me to budge on something. Because in the moment, it seems like too much. I assume the person is being controlling. They must be trying to squash my independence, my individuality and my freedom. They must be trying to make me feel bad so they can get what they want.
But that’s never the intention with people who love each other and have each other’s best interests at heart. The intention actually is that the person wants to get into my life and wants me in their life in ways I’m not used to giving. They simply want to be a part and share in life with me. And the hard truth to accept is that we’re not always right and our way isn’t always best.
In Scripture, Jesus asks us to take up our cross and follow Him. That means denying ourselves and following in the footsteps of love. It’s not natural for us. We struggle with it because we want what we want with no regard to anyone else. We’re not good at sacrifice. We’re greedy when we aren’t focused on loving with Jesus as our role model.
In fact, Jesus tells us that when someone forces us to walk a mile with them, we should walk two. We should volunteer to walk two. When someone sues us for our tunic, we should give them our cloak as well (Matthew 5:40-41). He commands us to refrain from retaliation (selfishness) and do these things for people who hate us. How much more should we do for those who love us and those whom we love?
Have you noticed the same trend in your life that I’ve noticed in mine? When I don’t sacrifice and I disregard the feelings of someone else, I feel horrible. I feel selfish. I realize that what I was trying to stand up for and make excuses to get out of wasn’t as important as I thought it was. It wasn’t as big a deal.
And so I continually work at it. I keep in mind that God gifted me a certain way so that my gifts can bless others. We were created for community and to help each other. God doesn’t intend for even introverts to hoard their time. We’re called to serve and give of ourselves to others.
How do you give of yourself? What Scriptures or reminders help you do so?