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Have you ever tried to ‘open a door’ by giving a gift? Maybe you wanted to get a special someone’s attention, make a good first impression, or gain favor. Proverbs 18:16 says that giving a gift has the power to open doors and give access to important people. Gifts are often given to people in positions of authority such as presidents, royalty, and judges. Part of doing so is etiquette or what is expected, but part of it is done in hopes of finding favor. If an appropriate gift is given with knowledge about the person’s likes and desires, it can find its way into the recipient’s heart.
“An official never flogs the bearer of gifts.” —Chinese proverb
“A gift given in secret subdues anger, and a bribe given secretly subdues strong wrath.” —Proverbs 21:14 NET
Proverbs 17:8 well says that a bribe can work like a charm and bring success. We know how well bribes work in politics, because governments are well-known for being corrupt. So am I advocating the giving of bribes? No, because if a person can be bought, then someone else can buy them for a higher price. It is better to not offer bribes nor to accept them. When a bribe is accepted, there are often strings attached.
“A friend that you buy with presents, will be bought from you.” —Latin proverb
“He who would stop every man’s mouth must have a great deal of meal.” —Italian proverb
I once heard a friend say it is hard to say anything against someone who gives gifts or does nice things, even if the person is not really all that nice or even leads people astray in some way. You probably know someone that is well-liked by a lot of people and either don’t know the real person or don’t care about moral ethics because what really matters to them is the end result and how it benefits them. This, too, often happens in politics, whether it is in government, organizations, or even within families.
People with lots of wealth, especially if they are generous, often wonder who their real friends are, but it is not only people with a lot of money who eventually find out who their real friends are when the well runs dry. I have heard a lot of people say when they ran out of drugs or booze, they also ran out of ‘friends’. Reminds me of the account of the prodigal son. (Luke 15:11-32)
“Many will seek the favor of a generous man, and every man is a friend to him who gives gifts.” —Proverbs 19:6
Sometimes people are generous simply because they want to be liked or to gain power. It’s like buying votes. But that works for only so long.
“You can get by on charm for about 15 minutes. After that, you better know something.” —H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
I like giving gifts, and although my motives are usually to brighten someone’s day or to meet a need, I’m sure I have given a gift or two to open a door or make a good first impression. Is there anything wrong with that? Well, it really comes down to whether the motive is purely selfish and deceptive or whether it seeks the best interest of others as well, which is why we should be discerning when it comes to befriending or endorsing someone simply because they are generous with their time, possessions, and power. Jesus gave a principle when he sent the apostles out and said, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. “ (Matthew 10:16)
“Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.” —English proverb referring to the Trojan Horse
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