The Courage to Face Ingratitude XV

Let us forget the good deeds we have done by making them seem small in comparison with the greater things we are doing, and the still greater acts we hope to do. This is true generosity, and will develop gratitude in the soul of him who has been helped, unless he is so petrified in selfishness as to make it impossible. But constantly reminding a man of the favors he has received from you almost cancels the debt. The care of the statistics should be his privilege; you are usurping his prerogative when you recall them. Merely because it has been our good fortune to be able to serve some one, we should not act as if we held a mortgage on his immortality, and expect him to swing the censor of adulation forever in our presence.” ~ William George Jordan

Of all the things that nibble away at the fabric of decency and integrity, one of the most common is the tendency to count favors. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. The saying applies both literally and figuratively, giving evidence of the tit-for-tat mindset adopted by the human race as an alternative to dignified living.

True love and genuine blessing require no recompense.

The minute you begin counting blessings given to others you become another of the devil’s bookmakers. You put down your book of life and pick up the ledger of human nature. Good deeds used to indenture or enslave others are not blessings, but curses in sheep’s clothing. If you bless another with the aim of securing some future repayment, you are usurping the power of blessing by putting it to selfish use. If you do a good deed for another, yet expect to settle up at some point in the future with interest, you are engaged in usury, which is a far cry from righteousness.

Where there is true generosity, there are no strings attached. You’ll find if you play the game as so many do that the strings attached eventually form a web that does not support, but constrains. No matter how well you play it, your freedom will be limited by the web of your own making as you will be forever jockeying for position, rather than occupying the one that would emerge naturally from the inside out were you to let it. The goodness in you is by nature unlimited, so to count it as guard at a road toll is to place artificial limits on an inexhaustible resource.

When you finally commit yourself to doing good in every aspect of your life (yes it is possible), you will find that you have no time for the usual petty accounting duties performed by someone who sees goodness as a commodity in short supply. You recognize the abundant goodness in those around you and complement them in a way that they have no choice but to be inspired to give freely of the goodness in their hearts.

To be an agent of goodness you must be a market maker, not a market follower! You must focus on the greater works, the next opportunity to give, rather than dwelling on events of the past. If you have to pull a favor from times past you’re likely not seeing the resources available in the present.

Don’t be afraid to count your blessings in this sense! See the abundance around you, no matter how poor, neglected or abandoned you feel. Rise to the occasion and start to give more freely, without expectation of return. In so doing you will “prime the pump” so to speak, allowing your body, mind and heart to function once again as a fountain of blessing through which the waters of blessing and life spring forth!

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10 Responses to The Courage to Face Ingratitude XV

  1. Doug says:

    The political scene both national and international is plagued with this very issue. If we want to see the havoc that’s created when each decision is predicated by the score card with little to no thought of honor just watch the news. Great post.

  2. strawberryfield says:

    I think there is a scrupulous accounting for all actions and thoughts but man is not capable of keeping or knowing the score. I see that as an aspect of judgement and we are not equipped with the power to do that. Give until it stops hurting, then it is as natural as breathing and then the inherent laws of recompensation will govern. This is truly uncommon living!

  3. Brad says:

    “Let us forget the good deeds we have done by making them seem small in comparison with the greater things we are doing, and the still greater acts we hope to do…” – this is profound! – talk about raising the bar for yourself regardless of what others think, say, or do…this IS onward and upward.
    Great series of posts!!

  4. Ricardo B. says:

    I agree, best to keep a simple game plan, one that is consistent so that you can focus and be single-minded in your outlook. If you have to keep a different face for different occasions, you are bound to don the wrong one sooner or later to your great embarrassment, not to mention that in the keeping of your ledger you are wasting precious energy. Forgo that strategy forever, leave it to the wolves on the prowl in their silly little games – nothing of lasting value ever comes from it, for castles made of sand…..slip into the sea…..eventually 🙂

  5. Vincent says:

    One way to look at it is that a genuine expression of love is priceless. We couldn’t expect someone to pay us for it, because there wouldn’t be enough money or favor to cover the bill! Some will recognize the value and will offer something symbolically in return, which is wonderful, but many won’t, and that is irrelevant. The fundamental reward is in the privilege of giving, enhancing and blessing, along with the increase of understanding that comes from such free-flowing expression.

  6. TW says:

    These posts can be read and re-read as they are filled with so many valuable points to consider. You do William George Jordan great honor by lifting up his remarkable words and helping to interpret them from a current perspective. Let’s hope that this legacy of uplifting will continue in the future with yet another perpective 100 years from now, allowing these words to be a gift to not only the past and present but to the future as well. Thanks for such helpful and timely insights.

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  8. Chris Lentz says:

    Great post full of great analogies!

  9. Chris Lentz says:

    Also I appreciate the new life breathed into the old saying, “Count your blessings.” it changes it from “It could be worse” to “how can I make this even better?”

  10. Brigitte says:

    It’s so much better to just give and not expect anything in return as then your giving is not conditioned by what you think you may deserve in return.

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