Most of us have heard businessmen talk about a ‘return on their investment.’ If anyone has watched the show Shark Tank, then you know exactly what I am talking about. Contestants come on the show and try to sell their products to any of the wealthy investors. What they are actually selling is a return on their investment. They want to convince one of the hosts that what’s invested will not only be returned but returned with a profit.
Expecting a return on our investment is not only natural, but a smart way to look at much of our life. From buying a home, a car, clothes, and tools, we have certain expectations that our purchase will give us a profitable return. Homes, in the long run, go up in value and are often an excellent investment. Cars do not, but we expect them to provide reliable transportation for several years if they are well maintained. Our clothes should last a reasonable amount of time without buttons popping off or zippers breaking. Finally, quality tools should last us years without breaking.
This approach works well for much of our life, but not when it comes to love. We walk through life expecting a return on our investment not only in any business dealings but in relationships, and daily small, seemingly insignificant things. Ever walk by someone, smile brightly, expecting a smile in return only to receive a stare or even a scowl? Have you ever invested time into a relationship only for it to fizzle out? When it comes to love and relationships, we often apply the same rules as a business deal, which is a mistake.
That is one of the beautiful things about love; it does not have to be transactional. You can give it away freely, and you don’t have to expect a return on your investment. Imagine having a bank account with unlimited funds. That is what love is like; you can keep on giving and giving.
To be clear, I am not talking about one-sided or toxic relationships. Some people you need to distance yourself from because they tear you down or use you. Some might say those kinds of people are ‘bad investments,’ but that turns people into projects. Never look at the love you can share abundantly as an investment into a project you can fix.
When we show kindness, encourage someone, lift them up, we can do that without expectation. That is love. Not always easy, but it is loving. Jesus loved without deals (Luke 15:11-32) without transactions (Mark 6:34) without expectations (Proverbs 17:17) without fear of rejection (1John 4:18). He spoke the truth and healed people without their having to sign on the dotted line.
I don’t have it all figured out, but if I can love more like Jesus, I am on the right path. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) I don’t know about you, but I struggle in loving without an agenda. Maybe you do too. I am learning to love those who don’t want to be loved. I am learning to love those who feel unloved. I am learning to love those who don’t want my love. I am learning to love those who don’t understand love. Like all of us, I am learning to love. I have come to realize it is the one thing I have an endless supply of.
Loving Without an Agenda by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.