Sunday, February 28, 2010

Disposable Income

Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice.

-- Psalm 112:5

Every once in a while we come across one of those feel-good-stories about a customer who leaves a huge tip for their waiter or waitress. Such stories are even better when they take place in shabby diners or truck stops. In fact – only a few years ago – a major newspaper reported that billionaire Donald Trump added $10,000 to his modest $82 meal tab. The story didn’t say if he dined at Waffle House or Denny’s.

“How you treat your waiter or waitress reveals a lot about your character,” explained The Donald. “So don’t forget to leave a big tip.”

He called this principle his Waiter Rule.

Whether Donald Trump’s alleged dinnertime exploits were true or just another urban legend, his Waiter Rule is real food for thought. And there’s considerable biblical support behind it. As Christ-followers, our faith grows as we continue to learn God’s ways for living in the world and changing it for His Kingdom. It turns out that generosity is one of those remarkable character traits that we should acquire and put into action along the way. And this is particularly relevant since we in 21st Century America are all so very rich – at least when compared to most of the world’s population. According to recent data from the World Bank, 1.4 billion people in the developing world (about 25 percent) live on less than $1.25 a day!

That statistic should put our individual financial situations – bleak or otherwise – into perspective. Millions of Americans may be unemployed, on welfare or receiving food stamps. But even that reflects incredible wealth against the backdrop of the crushing poverty found in sub-Saharan Africa, India or even Brazil. So how are we “millionaires” to respond with our riches of excess money and time?

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment,” the Apostle Paul instructed his protégé, Timothy. “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”

We can never out-give God with our riches – no matter how great or modest. But we can positively impact our friends, neighbors and total strangers by being generous with the money and time God gives us. And there are some very good reasons behind this principle.

First, your generosity brings joy to others. That’s because you’re thinking more about the recipient than yourself. (And don’t forget that God loves a cheerful giver.) Second, your generosity brings joy to God. That’s because you’re becoming more like Him when you’re generous to others.

And why not? After all, God happens to be the ultimate GIVER:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…

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