“You’re it! No tag-backs!” Maybe you remember, as I do, getting a group of friends together and playing tag in someone’s yard. The person who was IT would frantically run around after the others desperately attempting to tag one of them so the designation of IT could be passed on to that person. Often, when the it-exchange would take place, one would hear the declaration, “No tag-backs!” This call was made to ensure that the previous IT would have time to get away and the game could function properly. Otherwise, there was the possibility of the tag game turning into a slap-fight between two people, leaving the rest of the gang to have to find something else to do.
I believe acts of kindness should be treated like a game of tag. I often see people lamenting on social media about their great kindness (at least in their own estimation) and how they are always there for people, but no one is ever there for them. While I understand the sentiment and acknowledge that the predicament can be quite frustrating, one must thoughtfully consider how kind one’s kindness is if it eventually demands reciprocation.
I am not suggesting that kindness with the expectation of payback is not kindness at all, but it is certainly not the purest of kindness. If one is constantly keeping score and doing things for others to gain favors to eventually be cashed in, then the kindness done, at least in part, is self-serving. It is more like a service provided that we will send the bill for at a later date.
The Lord Jesus Christ gave instructions concerning a better kindness; a purer form of kindness. In Luke 6:35 Jesus says, “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.” It would seem that Jesus wants us to do good and then quickly “get away” before we can be paid back. No sticking around for accolades. No waiting for favors to be annotated on IOUs. No tag-backs.
I am reminded of the Progressive Insurance commercial where Flo and her colleagues were running around the neighborhood in the cover of night like a group of naughty kids, but were making repairs and doing good instead of participating in mischief. The whole idea was that they did not want to get caught; they just wanted to do right. Sometimes, when blessing someone else, we desire to get caught on purpose so that others know who they owe a favor to.
Not only does Jesus instruct us to adopt a policy of no tag-backs when it comes to doing acts of kindness for others, but He takes it a step further. Luke 14:12-14 – “Then He also said to him who invited Him, ‘When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.’”
The Lord tells us to purposefully look for people who cannot possibly pay us back and do good to them! That is certainly the opposite end of the spectrum from expecting to have our kindness compensated. Yet, what Jesus illustrates is pure kindness. Can we be satisfied with helping and blessing others simply for the sake of doing so? Or do we expect to be caught up in a slap-fight of exchanging kindness for kindness?
It can be difficult and lonely when one feels that they always give but receive nothing in return. However, my advice to you this day is to take your eyes off of yourself and what you feel you are not receiving. Place them on others and bless them for the pure sake of blessing them and maybe you will not be reminded so much of what you are in need of. There is a great joy to be found in blessing others and, as strange as it may seem, there can be a great deal of misery experienced when one is simply waiting to be blessed.
“Never look for right in the other man, but never cease to be right yourself. We are always looking for justice; the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is – Never look for justice, but never cease to give it.” – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
Until next time, may your coffee and contemplations… and acts of kindness… be rich and fulfilling.