Something has been weighing on my heart recently. It is the message in the book The Giving Tree. In the story, the tree in the backyard gives everything it possesses to a boy, who never understands why it is wrong to take without giving back. It is probably a symbol for a mother's love or misunderstanding of God's love, but the idea of never giving in return has made an important impact on my generation.
I knew two people about the same age, who read the book at an impressionable age, and its philosophy formed their conscience. (Nobody you know. They left me years ago!) They each created a facade of alternating "look how successful I am" and "I am a victim of circumstance". Their parents did their best to not only help them out of trouble, but also help them make better decisions.
They each decided that if God was a loving God, He would want them to be happy. If God was all knowing, He would see their love for Him, and they wouldn't have to show it by going to Church. If God was --- you get the idea.
I believe this idea of taking without giving could have been avoided if the boy had used the garden hose to water the tree on hot summer days. Perhaps he could have spread a little plant food to help nourish the soil each spring before the new leaves grew in. If the boy had given something back to the tree, the tree would not have been used up, much like every other relationship my former acquaintances had experienced.
Remember this: if you sow sparingly, you will reap sparingly, and if you sow generously, you will reap generously as well. Each person should give as much as he has decided in his heart, not with reluctance or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to enrich you with an abundance of every grace, so that, with all of your needs provided for, you may be able to produce a surplus of good works. 2 Cor 9: 6-8