Favor or Trade Off?

Posted: February 22, 2012 in Am i There Yet?

So what happens when everyone  assumes that i will always make it happen to their benefit and don’t even seem to notice that I am doing  them favors. And now i am in a place where i need something and i can’t get the group to give it.  What do i do?

i think i have two separate issues here. There’s the issue that i feel that i’m being taken advantage of by those who are constantly expecting me to act on their behalf and for their benefit. And  then there’s the issue of what i’m expecting other people to do for me in return.

It may be that what’s happening with me is that when someone asks me to do them a favor, i perceive the request not so much as a question, but  more like a demand with a question mark at the end. Meaning, i don’t feel that  i’m being asked to do the favor, but rather i’m being told to do it because it is what they need.  i then agree, somewhat and sometimes reluctantly, because i don’t feel i have the option to say no.

But a favor is only a favor when it is something nice that i am doing to help out someone else. If doing it makes me resentful, hurt, bitter or feel  used, then i am not doing the other person a “favor” and i am certainly not doing any favor to myself. i found the following while resarching my thoughts and found it interesting. i’m not saying i fully embrace it, it’s just an interesting concept.

In Jewish law, there is model for this concept. They have the mitzvah of tzedakah, of giving charity. The word “mitzvah” means both “good deed” and  “commandment” — a mitzvah is a good deed that they are supposed to do. But  Jewish law sets parameters for the mitzvah of charity. They are obligated to give  no less than 10% of our income to charity, but no more than 20%. As for that additional ten percent between 10% and 20%, Torah law states that they should only give it only if it is something that they choose to do and really want to  do. If giving that “extra” charity makes them resent or regret the fact that they have an obligation to give charity, then they are not allowed to do so since it is counterproductive.

In other words, they have three levels of charity. 1) the minimum 10% that they should give, whether they feel like it or not. 2) extra charity, up to 20%, that they should give only if they truly desire to. 3) excessive charity, or more than  20%, which they’re told not to give (except under certain extreme circumstances)

While favors obviously can’t be measured as precisely as dollars in the bank,  there might be a model here that could be applied to that kind of charity as well. There is a certain “minimum” amount of favors that i am to do for others,  similar to the 10% of charity that they are obligated to give. However, to go above and beyond that with my favors is not a positive thing if it leads to a reaction where i want to stop doing favors for people altogether.

Now as i said this is not my conclusion, it is for consideration. i now must go back and compare it to Philippians. Both technically have the word, one Old Testament and one New testament. Mean while how can i tell when to say “no?” As long as i am willing and happy to  help, i can say “yes.” The moment i beginning feeling that “everyone feels i am available” or that “no one recognizes i am doing favors” it is time to say  “no.” It sounds like, i may need to take a little break from doing favors and focus a little more on myself right now, and then slowly begin saying “yes” as i am ready.

As for the other issue i mentioned– that many are not willing to come together to help us all out when  it’s needed– that, too, is a problem. But the problem is not so much that they are not, but that i am expecting it. If i am doing someone a favor so that they will do a favor for me in return, then it’s not a favor. It  is only a favor when i am doing something for the sake of helping out others. As soon as i do something for something in return, it becomes a  trade-off. It’s not a favor when the person owes me something in return.

Ideally when i help people, they should be willing to help me as well when i need their help. But if they don’t, it is their problem and a reflection of them. My problem is only when i expect it.

For now, i must remember that i have the right to say “no” to a question that  is asked. If i can help, and i am not resentful in doing so, then by all  means i’ll say “yes.” But i must bear in mind that when i say “yes” i am owed nothing  in return. i am doing a favor. And doing a good deed is all the reward i should need.

  1. This is exactly what I needed to hear this morning. Strangely enough I read this blog as I was being pressed for a favor, I didn’t know how to respond as I care for this person very much. In my case, the favor has been asked of me before by the same individual on 1 or 2 occasions already. By now you probably might assume it involves money but its not the point. The point is in my case this 3rd or 4th time it’s become painfully clear that there has been no benefit in following through with these previous “favors” and quite frankly I am wincing at the thought of “making it happen” because I don’t feel moving forward with will make any progress in this persons life therefore it brings me no joy. It’s also quite possible that this person is at a point in their life that they feel it’s worth putting an emotional “lien” on our relationship by pushing the “favor”. In reading this blog I applied the wisdom in Philippians, but took into account the validity and clarity in the word when it speaks of the mitzvah of Tzedakah.

    In following the example in the mitzvah of Tzedakah,“If there is a needy person among you don’t harden your heart, don’t shut your hand against your needy kin. For there will never cease to be people with need in your land which is why I command you to open your heart to the poor and to the needy kin in your land.”

    If it truly is a favor (where there is nothing in it for you but the joy of fulfilling the Mitzvah/command of God),be careful to define the words “needy”, “kin” and the word “poor”. If the circumstance as like in my case does not meet (needy, kin, and poor) then it’s not charity and it’s therefore a trade in which terms are setup that are equitable for both.

    I’ll leave the writer of this blog with this… Are they your Kin? And Is the “Favor” a real favor or is it a masked business transaction of trade of which you are not getting your fair share?

    • me and I Am says:

      Ask a wrong question and you get a wrong answer. Kin means many things such as brothers and sisters in the Lord. Acts 7:26 ” On the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, ‘Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another?’

      So kin is not relevant. I also already described favor so with that said it is easily determined whether it’s favor or not. Masked business transaction… no there is no mask it has been removed and this is an issue for my personal consideration and to make sure i resolve it from my relationship with God. Out of the revelation of God in my life will come the correct response. As for fair share… how much is that? What is fair? God is not fair! Life is not fair! The word does not say that there is fair and unfair. Fair is a wrong question then and brings me to a wrong answer. i could go on but i won’t until tomorrow as i may or may not continue in these thoughts

  2. megan says:

    Sounds like someone has been establishing some guardrails 🙂

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