Expecting Nothing in Return

For just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).

I answered the knock on my front door. Standing on my welcome mat was a young boy I had never seen before. “Ma’am, may I do something for you?” he asked. My interest piqued. I asked him what he had in mind. He proceeded to list outdoor chores he could complete for me — watering flowers, raking leaves, pulling weeds, or taking out the trash. Trying to understand his motive for wanting to help me, I asked if he was a Boy Scout or if he was trying to make some extra summer money. “No ma’am, just wanting to do something nice for someone.”

So this young boy watered my flowers and wouldn’t accept even a lemonade in exchange for his kindness to me. Door-to-door, he continued throughout our neighborhood. I haven’t seen him again, but the impression he left on my heart remains. His heart to serve, expecting nothing in return, challenges me.

I consider my own motives for service. If we are being honest, sometimes our giving is an act of reciprocity. I give, so I can receive. Even though the Bible clearly states it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), we tend to live with the I’ll-scratch-your-back-if-you-scratch-mine approach.

If I serve, I will receive recognition. If I tithe, I will get a tax write-off. If I fast, I will be seen as holy. If I lead, I will receive accolades. If I pray in public, I will be admired. If I go on a mission trip, I will be applauded. If I give of myself in service to the Lord, He will bless me. Ever had any of these thoughts? Regretfully, me too.

Serving God is selfless, not self-centered. Rather than expecting something in return or serving only to make a good impression, we should have a pure-hearted servant’s attitude. Like Christ, we should serve out of love for God and for others. Jesus came to serve, not to be served (Matthew 20:28).

When Jesus washed His disciple’s feet at the last supper, He didn’t expect them to wash His in return (John 13). Instead, He said to them, “I have set an example for you that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15). This was the last time He would be with all His disciples and He taught them one last lesson — servanthood. In order to fulfill the mission of spreading the Gospel, the disciples would need to learn to serve — the same discipline we need to learn.

The likelihood of receiving something in return for our generosity is great, because scripture tells us when we have a servant’s heart we will be greatly blessed (John 13:17). However, it should not be the motivation behind our choice to give. We are not giving for a response, rather in response to Christ’s love for us. We aren’t giving for recognition or accolades, but out of obedience and love. We are to serve God for who He is, not what we get from Him. And the same goes for the people we serve. His love inspires me to give my love offerings without expecting anything in return.

When we serve others, we should serve wholeheartedly as if we are serving the Lord, not people, because we know the Lord will reward each of us for whatever good we do (Ephesians 6:7). We don’t need any recognition. God sees even the giving that is done in secret and He will reward you (Matthew 6:4). While we shouldn’t expect anything in return, God’s lavish love is the greatest return of all. God is our exceeding great reward (Genesis 15:1).

Call to Action: Are you giving expecting reciprocity from others and from the Lord? Give a gift to someone with no expectation to receive anything in return.

Rachael Adams is a writer, speaker, podcaster, and founder of The Love Offering. Her heart’s desire is to encourage women to realize their God given purpose and to embolden them to move into the world through compassionate action. Rachael and her husband live in Kentucky with their two children. Connect with her at www.rachaelkadams.com or on Facebook and Instagram @rachaeladamsauthor.