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03 October 2014

Here's a tip

We've all been there: the busy restaurant, the slow service, the interminable wait for the staff to even acknowledge your presence, let alone serve you. It's frustrating. It can ruin a good night out. And usually it results in angry comments, negative reviews and certainly no tip for the waiter.

But not this week. This week, one couple in Iowa took the focus off themselves and looked at the bigger picture.

The long wait for their drinks and food gave Makenzie Schultz time to reflect. She watched the waiter rushing from table to table, harried, but never annoyed. She realised it wasn't his fault. Knowing that he probably relied on tips to make his salary stretch far enough to cover the bills, Makenzie and her husband decided to do something radical,The Telegraph reports, they left a tip. But not just a normal tip. This was worth more than the total of their meal.

"I'm not posting this for a pat on the back," Makenzie said, when she uploaded a photo of their bill and the $100 tip added to the bottom: "I'm just sharing this as a friendly reminder to think of the entire situation, before you judge. And always, always, always remember where you came from."

The photo went viral, with over 1.5 million people 'liking' and sharing it.

What incredible generosity. What amazing grace.

And what a challenge.

It’s a sad fact that some Christians can 'forget' to be generous. We have our reasons – I know I have mine: many of my jobs have been in ministry or charitable organisations, where the wages and benefits have been low, so I feel as though I can’t afford to tip. I already donate a portion of my income to charity. Tips should be given as a reward for excellent service, not just something you automatically add. The list goes on…  

These excuses may be valid, but they miss the point. I’m the undeserving recipient of the outstanding generosity of God. He gave up everything for me and here I am thinking only of myself and my bank balance.

Do I think that somehow God will allow me to suffer because I have been too generous to others? Yes, we need to be wise and responsible stewards, but the message of the bible is far more concerned with giving than with saving.

This year, I've been challenged. Am I generous with my money, resources and time? Do I give without looking for a return and share without counting the cost? Sadly the answer is all too often no.

This couple from Iowa have reminded me again. I would love my life to be characterised by generosity, but the reason it too often falls short is because I forget where it all comes from. My time, my money, my talents. Everything I have is a free gift from God, who gives so generously from his limitless resources.

How can I hold back?


Jennie Pollock is a freelance writer and editor.