One clear characteristic of a true Christian is that of willingness to do everything with total self-giving. He avoids having any ulterior motives in all this actions. His intention is purely out of love—love for God and for everybody else. Even if his love is not reciprocated by the others, he would still continue to love them.
We are somehow reminded of this mark of Christian life in that gospel episode where Christ told the person who invited him for dinner that when he would hold a banquet, he should also invite “the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind” or those who would be unable to repay him. (cfr. Lk 14,12-14) Christ told him that he would be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.
We definitely need to learn how to give ourselves totally to the others, since we cannot deny that we have a strong tendency to put some strings attached whenever we have to give something to the others.
We have to make an effort, always asking, of course, for the grace of God first of all, so that we can learn to assume this attitude with respect to our self-giving. In the end, this will make us to be like Christ who gave himself totally to us, including giving his life for our sins.
Let’s remember what he told his disciples once: “Freely you have received, freely you have to give.” (Mt 10,8) Gratuitousness should characterize our self-giving to God and to others, just as gratuitousness characterizes God’s love for us. Such gratuitousness will gain us much more than what we give away.
In this regard, we have to do some continuing battle against our unavoidable tendency to be calculating in our self-giving. Not only do we have to contend with our personal weaknesses in this regard. We also have to contend with a tremendous cultural environment, so prevalent these days, that not only is not conducive to this attitude of Christian generosity but is also hostile to it.
We constantly have to rectify our intentions when we have to give to others—be it things, a service, or matter of attention and affection. This is especially so when our giving is for God. Let’s never forget that God cannot be outdone in generosity.
We should always be encouraged to give ourselves to others gratuitously without strings attached, without conditions. Even if instead of being reciprocated properly and requited, our love is misunderstood and rejected, we just have to go on loving. The only reason for loving is because that is what true love is. It is this love that is the real essence of God, of whom we are his image and likeness.
Loving in this way can only mean giving all the glory to God. We have to be careful because we always have the tendency to give glory to ourselves, if not totally then at least partially. Our motto should be “Deo omnis gloria,” all the glory to God.
We should not worry about our own glorification because God will take care of it. This is what St. Paul said in this regard: “For those God foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…And those he predestined he also called. Those he called he also justified. Those he justified he also glorified…If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8,29-31)*