“Each person should do as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or out of compulsion.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 CSB
Benjamin Franklin, renowned scientist and politician, had a rival in the legislation back in his day. He had a unique way of dealing with him, he asked him for a favor. He asked him to borrow a book. Franklin had heard his rival had a rare book that he wanted to read; Franklin wrote him asking to borrow the book, he let him. A couple of weeks later when the guys run into each other, his rival isn’t as hostile as he had been previously. Not only is he not hostile, but they ended up becoming friends. This story, found in Franklin’s autobiography, is known as the Benjamin Franklin Effect. Researchers have found, when you do a favor for someone, especially someone you slightly dislike or feel neutral towards, you will like them more. And you’re more likely to do a favor for them again.
Paul is talking about the same thing in his letter to the Corinthians, he’s talking about giving without expecting anything in return. When Benjamin Franklin’s rival lent him the book, he wasn’t expecting anything in return. Franklin had made a request and he responded to it. The book however, became they’re meeting point. The book gave them something to talk about, these two rivals had finally found neutral ground. Neutral ground is where friendships are formed. Whether or not that was Franklin’s motive when he asked to borrow the book, we’ll never know. Often, when we do favors for others, we really are expecting something back in return. Rarely do we do things without ulterior motives, whether we realize it or not. We do things out of guilt, worry about what others will think, trying to impress someone, trying to impress ourselves, the list could go on and on. What Paul is imploring us to do, is give for the sake of giving, because you want too. Don’t give for any other reason, don’t expect anything in return. Do a favor for someone, just because it’s the right thing to do.
And do it for someone you slightly dislike or feel neutral towards, see if it makes you like them better. Find out if providing neutral ground through a favor gives you a commonality to connect with someone with whom you want to connect. Find out if, like Franklin and his rival, having something to talk about helps you form a friendship you never thought would be possible. Give without receiving, like Jesus did for us. Do a favor for someone without asking for one in return. A favor doesn’t have to be big, it can be simple. A favor can be pulling your neighbors trash can in off the curb, picking up mail for a friend out of town, or watering their plants. If lending a rival a book can repair a friendship, it’s immeasurable what God can do with a willing heart and a favor.