At some point in our lives we have heard the phrase “some people are givers, and others are takers”. Usually this is in response to a circumstance where someone took advantage of us and we were lamenting over it with a friend. I was always encouraged to give more than I will ever receive. I was also given the permission to move people out of my life if they were only takers who never gave anything in return.
When I became a Christian, I embraced the idea of giving without ever expecting anything in return. It makes it really easy to out give, or give more than you will receive, if you are never expecting to receive anything. What happened, however, was a season of years where I was taken advantage of by people whom I considered friends.
This would result in a spiritual struggle between giving without expectation and setting clear boundaries from people who only interested in taking. A struggle with the verses that says to turn the other cheek (Matt 5:38-40) and forgiving seven times seventy times (Matt 18:22).
Was the right move to continue to keep giving, allow myself to become a doormat in order to give without expectation, turn the other cheek, and keep forgiving? I kept these people in my life because it seemed like that was what I was supposed to do as a good Christian.
The freedom I needed came as I read the words in Matthew 7:16 about how we will recognize who people are and what they believe by their fruit. It was not a carte blanche freedom to just let go of those who only take without ever giving, but it helped open my eyes to the deeper issues of their hearts.
A person who takes may not be in a capacity to give for some reason. They may only take, but the thing they are not doing is taking advantage of others. It’s just where they are, they are appreciative, and we can see their fruit is good.
Those who take out of selfish ambition, who are not appreciative, or where their “taking” is just one symptom of their bad fruit…. those are the ones we can forgive and release.
So, as you are faced with assessing the people in your life… ask yourself “what kind of fruit are they producing”.