Giving gifts can be a dangerous activity, especially if you give gifts to yourself. No, I am not talking about the present under the tree that is labeled from Dad to Dad. I am talking about the gifts you give to your wife or to your kids or to others close to you.
One example is giving a gift to someone for the pleasure of seeing how much you are appreciated. For example, things are a bit on the difficult side with your teenage son. You give him a new iPhone, thinking that he will be pleased with you. This is where things get murky. When your son (or daughter) is not overwhelmed with your gift, you are hurt. You spent money on something you really could not afford. You are angry because it was not appreciated. You feel this way because in reality, you were giving the gift to yourself. This sort of gift only brings unhappiness. This is illustrated when a few months later your son says something unkind to you. Your first thought, if not your first word, is what a waste to have given him that stupid phone! This is the gift that keeps on hurting.
Another example of giving gifts to yourself is when you give to gain a desired response from the recipient of the gift. You want your spouse or your child to do something for you that they really don’t want to do. You give them an expensive gift so that you get what you want. This is commonly called a bribe. Not a good idea.
One last example is when you give a gift to atone for your poor behavior. You have chosen to spend long hours at work instead of investing time in your family. Or perhaps you have been harsh in the way you speak. Your solution is to give a gift to make up for your actions. Again, this is a gift you give to yourself.
If you give in order to gain something, anything, for yourself, then you have not followed Christ but the world. You are giving to get. Giving to yourself brings bitterness, disappointment and unnecessary debt.
Christ-like love is selfless love. Give to show love, to show appreciation, to show gratitude. Give gifts that bring praise to Christ, not to yourself.