I really love being a Christian. I love identifying myself with Christ and his church. Obviously the church isn’t perfect, but we’re called to love her anyway. I love aligning my life to something bigger than myself and the sense of purpose I get from partnering with Christ in his redemption of this world. So I definitely love being a Christian. There are some moments, though, that other Christians make me look bad. One such moment is captured in the photo below.
This photo made its way around the Internet last week. Apparently a pastor who had been part of a large party at a restaurant took affront to being forced to leave an 18% tip. Instead of leaving an 18% tip or any tip at all, she simply crossed out the tip and wrote, “I give God 10% why do you get 18?” Then signed the receipt with the word “Pastor” preceding her name.
This frustrates me on so many different levels.
First, we serve a generous God. God didn’t just give us 10% or 18%; he gave us everything. Everything we have comes from our generous God who doesn’t hold back. He didn’t even hold back his own son, who he freely gave so that we might be redeemed and given the opportunity for new life. If we are followers of Christ, our generosity should reflect the generosity of Jesus. Christians should be some of the best tippers in the world because we understand the impact generosity can have.
Second, tithing isn’t about meeting God’s needs. God has the cattle on a thousand hills; do we really think he needs our 10%? Tithing isn’t about our personal gift to God but the personal transformation that comes from trusting God with our finances. My road to regular tithing was a difficult one but now I’m in a place of trusting that God will provide even though I’m living on 90% of what I make instead of 100%. So giving God 10% is entirely different from giving a server 18%. God doesn’t need that 10% to pay bills or feed a family. A server, though, depends on tips to meet his or her needs. How awesome is it that God could use our generosity to help meet the needs of someone who served us a meal?
Thirdly, as a pastor this pastor makes me mad. I know that people have higher expectations for pastors, something that the Bible says is natural for people in church leadership. I’m mindful of what I share on social media and never want someone to question God or the church because of my behavior. This pastor had the opportunity to show God’s generosity to a single server. Now, because the receipt has gone viral, it has become one more reason for people to question the heart and motives of Christians and the church.
The pastor in question has actually been identified and she has apologized for her “lapse in judgment.” Obviously this pastor only persists because of God’s grace just like the rest of us. And if our lapses in judgment were shared with the world they would probably be even more frustrating.
In this information age, there’s no telling the impact our lapses in judgment might have. So it’s vitally important for us to depend on God’s grace to keep us from having those lapses in judgment. That grace is so amazing and we should strive to never diminish its appeal to the world around us.
How does grace keep you from having lapses in judgment?