Are We Supposed to Give Everyone What They Want?

Love means giving when we're asked but not always what we're asked.

{my graphics are free goodies for you}

My friend and I find a corner in our favorite coffee shop. The air smells like slightly burnt sugar and bitter-dark espresso. All around us conversations hum and rise with the occasional staccato of laughter. I run my fingers along the edge of our nicked and worn-smooth table before asking the question on my mind, “Are we really supposed to give everyone what they want from us?”

I’ve been reading Matthew 5 and the forty-second verse has me head-scratching and heart searching. “Give to those who ask,” Jesus says.

Maybe you never struggle with Scripture. Maybe all those divinely penned words make perfect sense in your life and you put them into beautiful practice like a prodigy sitting down at a piano. But not me. Especially lately. I wrestle and wonder and feel downright confused quite a bit of the time.

Taking this verse at face value in the past has turned me into a human vending machine. Press this approval button and Holley will give you her time. Poke this shame one and she’ll be whoever you want her to be. Select guilt/obligation and watch her bake, say or squeeze into her day whatever you demand.

It’s taken me many years and lots of counseling to realize that’s not what love looks like. So when I came across the words of Jesus again {ones I’d actually quoted to myself plenty of times to justify feeling exhausted and empty} I needed to better understand.

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That day in the coffee shop my friend and I began talking about what Matthew 5:42 might really mean. And at some point I had this realization: God always gives when we ask–but He doesn’t always give what we ask. I would be in a heap of trouble if God had answered all my prayers exactly the way I wanted. Particularly those regarding certain brace-faced boys and/or perms I daydreamed about in Junior High {insert shudder here}.

My friends who are parents of little kids seem to have mastered this art of answering requests. Their kiddos ask for a banana split as a snack and they go with just the banana. Or perhaps they offer something with vegetables shaped sneakily like circus animals. In other words, they respond {or at least attempt to} with the highest good for the need. And we all seem to agree this is right.

So maybe that is more like what Jesus intended when He said to give to those who ask. We are not to be human vending machines but instead wholehearted, intentional responders. People who say, “I see you. I hear you. And as much as I want to say ‘yes’ to exactly what you want, it would not be truly kind or caring or wise–for you or me.” As Ellicott’s commentary on Matthew 5:42 says, “Were we to give to all men what they ask, we should in many cases be cursing, not blessing, them with our gifts.”

In this world we may be presented with a million requests. But there is only one thing that fulfills them all. Love. And sometimes “no” or “not now” or “not that” is the most loving.

Lately I’m praying for God to grant me the courage to give more and please less. To close my vending machine down forever and open my heart up for today. And to be honest, it can feel complicated and tricky and slightly terrifying. But I know it’s time and it’s best. So I’m just going to keep on asking.


Holley Gerth

p.s. If you liked this post you’ll love this book – You’re Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect


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About Holley

About Holley

Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author and Life Coach

I like humans, words, and good coffee. And I’d love to help you beat what’s holding you back, become all you’re created to be, and kick butt for the greater good.

Cheering you on,


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