16 A gift opens the way
and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.
17 In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right,
until someone comes forward and cross-examines.
In the giving and receiving of gifts, it is important to discern whether expectations are attached. If a person is expecting something in return, what they offer is not a gift but a payment. The grateful person gives joyfully, but the selfish person keeps a record of what they think they are owed. It is not the gift, but the heart, which determines the quality of a relationship. Charles Spurgeon used the following story to illustrate this:
“Once upon a time there was a king who ruled over everything in a land. One day there was a gardener who grew an enormous carrot. He took it to his king and said, ‘My lord, this is the greatest carrot I’ve ever grown or ever will grow; therefore, I want to present it to you as a token of my love and respect for you.’ The king was touched and discerned the man’s heart, so as he turned to go, the king said, ‘Wait! You are clearly a good steward of the earth. I want to give a plot of land to you freely as a gift, so you can garden it all.’ The gardener was amazed and delighted and went home rejoicing.
But there was a nobleman at the king’s court who overheard all this, and he said, ‘My! If that is what you get for a carrot, what if you gave the king something better?’ The next day the nobleman came before the king, and he was leading a handsome black stallion. He bowed low and said, ‘My lord, I breed horses, and this is the greatest horse I’ve ever bred or ever will; therefore, I want to present it to you as a token of my love and respect for you.’ But the king discerned his heart and said, ‘Thank you,’ and took the horse and simply dismissed him.
The nobleman was perplexed, so the king said, ‘Let me explain. That gardener was giving me the carrot, but you were giving yourself the horse.’”
“In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines.” It is folly to jump to conclusions without hearing both sides of a matter. Each side has its biases, and it is doubtful that one is capable of fairly presenting the other’s point of view. Don’t rely on a single source for your opinions, with every disagreement there is an opportunity to learn.