It was a beautiful fall afternoon. We were on the deck, looking at the mountains and the sunset forming in the western sky. James is a committed Christian, married to a strong lady, raised two godly boys, and is an active faithful member of his church, not to mention being a great guy who’s fun to be with.
He and his wife Sue often ate out after church. While talking about various places to eat, James, a gregarious sort, blurted out, “I never leave a tip. I always leave something infinitely more valuable: a tract.”
I don’t remember how long I sat there, but it seemed like forever. I was stunned.
“James, how do you think the server feels when you do that?” I asked.
“I never thought of that,” he said. “I just know that faith in Christ is more valuable than money.”
“Yes, that’s true,” I conceded, “but it’s a false dichotomy. Would you feel satisfied if your boss gave you a tract instead of a paycheck?”
Somewhat taken aback, he said, “That’s not the same. I would be livid.”
“Tips are major percentage of a server’s income,” I told him. “Can he or she spend that tract at the grocery store?”
“No. Don’t be silly,” he said.
“What impression does that tract give waiters and waitresses of Christians?” I asked.
“I assume they would think I was concerned for their souls, that I really cared for them,” he replied.
“Did it ever occur to you that they see you pray before the meal, and then when you don’t leave a tip they end up concluding that Christians are penny-pinchers?” I asked. “Wouldn’t it be better for them to consider Christians to be the most generous people they serve?”
James became a bit sheepish. You could see the thoughts whirling. “I think I am getting your point,” he said. “I just never thought about it from the server’s point of view”
James was teachable, and years later he told me he still left a tract, but it was always accompanied by a generous tip.
Those in the pagan world watch the actions of Christians, even more than they hear our words, and form lasting opinions. But as they watch us, would they conclude we are generous? The God we serve is the most generous bestower of gifts the world has ever known. Does that description fit you?
“You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:11).