This article was written by Lakita Humber who serves as the founder of Paneh – A ministry which exists to educate, impart and equip those called to worship arts on a variety of subjects, such as D.A.N.C.E. Out of Debt.
Is There a Such Thing as a Free Lunch?
One of the tenets of economics is “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” The underlying concept is you cannot get “something for nothing.” The phrase originates from 19th century American saloons attracting drinkers by offering them a free lunch. The catch was, in order to get the “free” meal, you had to purchase a drink. Some saloon keepers were prosecuted for false advertisement. (Source) Ironically, this type of advertising campaign is still in existence and actually accepted today.
I began to wonder if there was such a thing as a “free lunch?” Is it possible to get something for nothing? Is there a hidden agenda behind every act of generosity? Is altruism nothing more than a pipe dream? Since part of the Christian faith is generosity and giving, I believe there IS such a thing as a free lunch – even if I’m the one providing it! The Bible has quite a bit to say about giving:
“Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.” – Deuteronomy 15:10
“He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.” – Proverbs 22:9
“If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” – James 2:15-16
As a participant in the 10-Day Give project I was able to observe the responses of some of the campaign recipients. Many offered some form of immediate reciprocation. For example, if I picked up the tab for lunch, they immediately offered to do the same next time. I told them that it was not necessary. For me, the promise of reciprocity negated the point of the giving project. For the most part, they were being polite. Admittedly, if the roles were reversed I would have offered as well. Still I can’t help but wonder; have we become cynical about giving and receiving?
Most advertisers, marketers and businesses are giving to receive. There is nothing wrong with that, their agenda is to make a profit. For example, FreeCreditReport.com will give you a “free” copy of your credit report once they sign you up for a monthly paid credit monitoring service. Many foundations and individuals give to charities and non-profits to receive the tax write-off. Other companies give money or promotional items in exchange for publicity.
Again, I don’t believe there is anything wrong with giving in order to receive; however, this should not be confused with selfless generosity. Many of us are business owners and entrepreneurs and therefore rely on the direct and indirect benefits of giving – great! Every once in a while let’s remember to give without expectation (except the promise outlined in Luke 6:38). It may be as simple as providing someone with a free lunch!