Over the past 2 years I have been writing a book called Love Without Agenda: My Journey Out of Consumer Christianity. Last June when my team and I decided that we would be giving away our book to anyone who wanted to read it—we had to decide what exactly ‘free’ meant. How do you give something away and still maintain its value?
Often times, ‘free’—while initially exciting—isn’t valued very much in our culture.
Free books may not ever get read or shared because they are…well…
But, what is free?
Why is it so different from a gift?
Let’s imagine together that under your Christmas tree this year there was a mysterious present waiting for you. I know, how exciting! Now for %90 of the people in the world this is a wildly impossible dream, but for many people living in the Western world this idea comes fairly naturally. So let’s just stick with the Christmas present analogy.
Imagine your opening your secret gift and find only a crumpled and dirty gum wrapper. Imagine it didn’t even have the gum in it! It’s likely to have been simply picked off the curb somewhere in your neighborhood. How disappointing. If you’re like most people—you wouldn’t be too excited about this gift of litter.
Most people instinctively recognize the difference between a gift and something merely free. Like that nasty gum wrapper someone so thoughtfully gave you—it may have been free—but it’s probably not really a gift. We recognize a gift when we see it. We also know that just because something is freely given to us doesn’t necessarily make it a gift. What makes our mind move something from the ‘just free’ category to gift?
Gifts generally require some type of sacrifice on the part of the giver. In our consumer world, that typically comes in the form of a financial sacrifice. An expensive watch or car, are considered great gifts. But, expensive gifts aren’t only valued by their price tag. Generally, the greater the sacrifice to the individual who gave it—the greater the value it bears to us. This is a very Jesus centric principle. Or possibly, the sacrifice could come in the form of time and effort. Homemade gifts that took many hours of careful crafting from a loved one, like a child’s popsicle candy dish or our grannies home sewn mittens. These too hold great value, simply because of the sacrifice of time and care involved in creating the gift.
Simply put, gifts are symbols of another persons value of us.
Of course, as Christians, you can easily see where I’m taking this conversation in regards to Christmas. But, perhaps this Christmas season you could work extra hard to remember and apply this gift principle to Jesus. Remembering in each moment that it was surely a great amount of sacrifice, love and care that He put into the gift of his life’s work.
It remains a truly generous gift for all humans.
Which brings my gift thoughts full circle—back to the book that my Love Without Agenda team has worked on for the past two years. Lovingly crafted over thousands of hours of scribbled-down thoughts and copious amounts of caffeine—it’s become a truly beautiful book! While we may not be charging you money to read the content, you can be confident that we’ve lovingly prepared for the moment you open our book and hear my uncensored and un-muffled voice.
This book is not free, but this book is a gift.
It’s a ‘hunt and pecked’ gift of the heart, from me to you.
But—why would we choose to do this?
Why sacrifice years to create a book, and then just give it away?
It’s quite simple to us:
Because, though we have not met—we love you.
Because you’re absolutely worth the gift.
Isn’t that the whole idea of Christmas?
That God considers you worth receiving a magnificent gift!
Yes, we think it is.
Yes, we think life, all year, is that simple.
Yes, you’re worth all it took to get this book to you, just in time for the holidays.
Yes, you’re worth every moment, meeting, and every dime spent to make this book.
You’re worth it to God.
You’re worth it to us.
I promise—it’s better than a gum wrapper.
LOVE & Happy Holidays
Jimmy Spencer Jr is the founder and CEO of Love Without Agenda. He’s just a good guy trying to change the world—and himself—one act of love at a time.