I recall reading about a missionary in Africa who taught the nationals that Christians gave each other gifts on Christ's birthday as an expression of their joy. This is ideal but it often isn't true. Being a Christian doesn't guarantee pure motives.

A student of the missionary mentioned above gave his teacher a beautiful seashell as a gift. When asked where he had discovered such an extraordinary shell, the native said he had walked many miles to a certain bay, the only place where these shells could be found.

The missionary was deeply moved and told the young man how much he appreciated his gift, to which the native replied, "Long walk, part of gift."

This indeed is a gift from the heart with a pure motive. I'm not sure all our giving (including mine) is with pure motives as there are all sorts of reasons why we give. However, the only true giving is that which comes from the heart with a pure motive. Too much of some people's giving, I'm afraid, is manipulative; that is, it's giving to get which isn't giving at all. For instance, if I keep giving gifts to my boss as a means to get a promotion, that's not giving. It's manipulative.

It is reported that an English nobleman just before his death said, "What I spent, I had. What I kept, I lost. What I gave, I have." When motives are pure this is true.

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