Friday, February 1, 2013

What does your giving say about you?

It's been all over the Internet today.  A (female) pastor in St. Louis wrote on a receipt at Applebee's "I give god 10%, why do you get 18"  You can read the story here.

I'm not going to talk about if Applebee's was in the wrong to fire the server.  I am, however going to talk about the actions of this woman who calls herself a pastor.

My very first thought was, "If this woman is the pastor, what do the people in her church act like?"  After all, this is the example they have, their leader, their spiritual mentor.  It makes me shudder to think about it!

I have a friend who returned from a discipleship training course a few years back.  He was at it for two years, and he has always impressed me with his tipping as well as his attitude towards wait staff in a restaurant.  One night the two of us were at Denny's for over an hour after the rest of the group left and because we were there so long, he left a tip equal to his order.  I'm sure the waitress didn't mind us there anyway as it wasn't busy.  He has always said, though, one things he learned at the discipleship training was, "People know why you are here.  They know you are Christians.  Tip generously."

I've heard so many complaints that the people who are the stingiest in tips is the groups from churches.  In fact, one man in my church said he quit going out to eat with the group because he was embarrassed at how few of the younger people left tips.  If you can't afford to leave a tip, you can't afford to go out and eat.

Luke 6:38 says:  Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back (NLT)

It sometimes feels like the rest of the world knows a concept that hasn't always penetrated the church:  GIVING HELPS US!  One of the best books I read in 2012 was  Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money by Rabbi Daniel Lapin.   In that book, he discusses how giving can actually help increase our ability to receive more money.  Not as in the "seed money" I often hear talked about in church (meaning 10% of the money you hope to receive back.  The concept is if you need $100 for car repairs, you put $10 extra in the offering as your "seed" to receive the $100.  I cannot find that supported Biblically, but it is practiced among some Christians.)  Instead what Rabbi Lapin discusses in this book is something that really should be common sense.  If you are a giving person, you will often make contacts who help you in the future.  

Many people know I enter contests and sweepstakes as a hobby.  When I went to the convention this past summer, I saw how sharing reaps more rewards.  I won an iPad because someone shared with me.  I tried to give the lady some money who shared with me, but she wouldn't take it.  But you can better believe if she ever asks me for a vote in a contest, she has mine!  I saw this principle at work in hanging out with a certain sweepstakes club because they were all winners, but all shared what they found with one another.  It didn't used to be uncommon if you won a big prize (say $1,000 or more) to send the person who shared that sweepstakes with a newsletter $50 or more -- just for sharing even though you did the work to win.  Most people share even more if someone actually helps.  Depending on the amount of help given, most share MUCH more, that's usually just for someone who has only told the other person about the contest. 

When you share, it's a win-win for everyone.  When you stay tight fisted, everyone loses.  It's true in sweepstakes, and it's true in life.

I believe Luke 6:38 isn't just for Christians, but for everyone.  If someone is generous with me, I feel like doing more for them.  The people I have been generous with are there to help when I need it.  Someone who I feel hasn't been generous?  Whatever I have to give can be given to someone else, and if I'm not generous with people, I can't expect them to be there when I need something. 

I believe in not being stingy, and not being resentful in giving or helping others.  In positive terms that means sharing freely and happily.  If you, like the pastor in the Applebee's case feel you shouldn't have to because you are a Christian, there is Scripture to back up giving freely and happily.  

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