Dinner with FriendsHave you ever been invited to a friend’s house for dinner? They asked you to come to their house at 6pm. You arrive at 5:55pm to ensure you are not late.

Throughout the night, laughs are shared, memories are made, and you leave refreshed. The generosity of your friends have blessed you.

Prior to leaving, you express your gratitude. However, you can’t just leave it at “thank you.” That just wouldn’t be right…right? You have to pay them back for their kindness.

“Would you like to come over to our house for dinner?”

“Of Course,” They said and added, “That will be fun.”


What’s The Problem

AdobeStock_85487986How often do we treat gratitude as a chore? Gratitude is an expression. It is similar to grace. Something is given to you with no expectations of a return. If a buddy shows up with a gift for you, typically we respond with, “Thank you.” Yet, now we are in debt to him. He did something loving to you and you did nothing to receive it.

Do you often think, I must owe him something to make it right?

So, maybe you will invite him over to watch the game. Or perhaps go to a sports game together. Whatever you decide, you are trying to pay the person back for their kindness.

It is no longer a “kind” act on your end, but a way to make yourself feel better. The desire stems from the need to level the playing field.



KindnessThis does not neglect the call to be kind (Ephesians 4:32). We should be kind to one another. The desire to be hospitable is commendable (Romans 12:13).  Yet, the problem is when you are doing this to pay the other person back. Are you doing this because you are wanting to be like Christ or because you want a pat on the shoulder? Or because someone was kind to you and you can’t stand their kindness?

True kindness should stem from the Gospel.

“The debtor’s ethic says, ‘Because you have done something good for me, I feel indebted to do something good for you.’ This impulse is not what gratitude was designed to produce. God meant gratitude to be a spontaneous expression of pleasure in the gift and the good will of another.”–John Piper (Page 30 of Future Grace)

That is, an expression of a thankful heart for the good of someone else. Not a heart that has the need to pay someone back. This relates directly to the Gospel.


Looking to Jesus

JesusWhen we understand what Christ has done for us, we should be left amazed. Jesus showed kindness to us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).  I was a rebel, an enemy, a sinner who’s crime was treason. Yet, God showed me his kindness.

Guess what? We cannot pay God back. No amount of kindness will do to level the playing fields. I am in massive debt and whenever I try to pay him back, it just adds all the more to my debt. Our gratitude should cause us to revel in the goodness of the Gospel. The pleasure of knowing Christ has wiped our slate clean is extremely freeing.

The only option we have is to accept what Christ has done. Our response is, “Thank you Jesus.” Nothing else to add. Once we are amazed, our desires change to want to be like our Savior. Not to pay him back, but to be like him. So, when I desire to show kindness to others, it is not out of an act of duty, but because of the immense level of kindness Jesus has shown me. This desire is only possible when knowing what Christ has done and desiring others to experience the gift of the glorious Gospel.


Justin is a husband, father, and a writer. He is passionate about equipping parents, glorifying Jesus, and helping the local church. Justin currently resides in Michigan with his wife and two daughters.

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