Leave a Good Tip for the Kingdom of God, or at Least Don’t be a Jerk About It

pastor-receipt-wnhip9c

The story behind this picture is that a pastor, eating with a group of people at a St. Louis restaurant, scratched out the 18% gratuity added on to groups over a certain size and left a note on the receipt that said, “I give God 10%, why do you get 18?” This picture of the receipt ended up on the atheism page at reddit, bringing a reproach on Christ, the church, and other Christians.

Being a believer in Jesus Christ is supposed to influence transform every other area of your life. Stunts like this demonstrate a heart that is more in tune with capitalism rather than the generous grace of God.

I know, I know. Some of you are not hearing what I’m saying. Instead you’re hearing things like, “Let other people take advantage of you.” Note first that I did not say that (even though you may have heard it, still doesn’t mean I said it). But note also that Paul said almost the same thing in 1 Cor. 6 expecting a positive answer. Which is more important: keeping 8% (and in raw dollars it was only $6.79) or demonstrating the grace of God by gracious behavior? If the Kingdom of God isn’t worth less than seven dollars then you need help that I can’t provide in a mere blog post.

I’ll be honest, I don’t like the mandatory gratuity any more than anyone else does. I think I should be able to tip commensurate with the level of service provided. But then, it has long been my practice to tip generously simply because it is the right thing to do (for many reasons). As a result, I have developed relationships with servers in places I frequent that have yielded positive results for the Kingdom. Not everyone I talked to came to my church, but it isn’t about that, is it? They didn’t all come to my church, but I was able to influence them in positive ways for the Lord’s glory.

The restaurant where I eat breakfast at sometimes charges me $6.00 for my breakfast. A 15% tip is 90 cents. I always tip $2.00. Not because I’m rich but because it just seemed right to do. This along with my simply be nice has allowed me to build relationships with the people who work there. Apparently even the cooks in the back know who I am. This little bit of generosity (and really, it’s not much, and I don’t even eat there every day) has build bridges with people I would not otherwise have known and allowed me to talk to them about topics I would never have been able to discuss otherwise. One server has begun attending again at the church she was halfheartedly committed to. Another has started teaching in her church’s children’s ministry. Yet another still doesn’t care for “the whole church thing” but she’s not as bitter against Christians as she used to be. Who knows where that will lead? Some have directed other people to come and talk to me about things, people I would not otherwise have been able to minister to. I’m convinced it’s all because I was more generous than I needed to be.

My 30% tip is a small price to pay to have an impact for the kingdom of God. I think 18% was a small price for this pastor to pay to keep Christ’s name (and his fellow believers) from being dragged through the mud.

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About Michael R. Jones

Pastor and PhD candidate writing on Paul's theology of suffering.
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