So…this afternoon, I decided to get Janet’s car washed and filled up with fuel for the beginning of the week. I had a few errands to run and thought I would hit the car wash first. We have a monthly pass for our vehicles so I am pretty well known over there. In fact, they know the services we like and so most of the time it is a pretty smooth experience. I get through the wash and then pull the car into a lane to have the inside cleaned. There is a waiting room for people to sit out of the weather but it was so beautiful today I decided to sit outside and converse with the folks working on my car. Before I leave, I always put something in the tip box, recognizing the efforts of those people who clean and dry the vehicles.
Anyway, another car pulled up behind me in the lane. It came to a stop and a father with his son, probably 10 years old or so, got out. The boy and his father sat in the chairs next to me so it was very easy to hear the conversation they were having. The young man noticed the container marked for “tips” and asked his father about putting some money in for the people who were working on their car.
Obviously, Dad thought this was a teachable moment. He went on to tell his son that you should NEVER leave a tip unless the recipient sees who left it and how much it was. Only in that way will the person know who to treat better next time they visit the establishment. So when there is a container to collect tips, it really doesn’t do you any good to tip – after all, nobody knows if you gave any money or not.
I really couldn’t believe what this guy was telling his son. In fact, he went on to say that when his son went to college and started drinking, it was something the boy should remember when he visited bars. It was important that he tipped the bartenders sufficiently. Now remember, this boy was about 10 years old. The boy then asked his father if that was the way they did it at Harvard… and Dad replied that it was…
I kind of wish that my own car wasn’t ready because I almost couldn’t wait to hear what life lesson was next… but this is one father who really doesn’t understand what it is like to help people who aren’t as privileged as he apparently is. I know the people at the car wash and they work incredible hours for very low pay. One lead person is there every hour the place is open, for the entire week, except for the hour or so that he attends church on Sunday morning. It would be tough to find a more loyal, diligent, hard-working person anywhere. And I’m sure that the extra cash that tips bring in (tips are evenly divided among all the workers) is very much appreciated.
Certainly, this father’s requirement for recognition when giving, whether it is a tip or a donation, is not very biblical. In fact, Jesus has quite a different mandate for us when it comes to helping others. I admit that this is contrary to the way our worldly culture operates, but when it comes to the way of Jesus, we commonly refer to it as the “upside down kingdom” – doing things consistent with the behavior of Jesus is usually the opposite of the way that we think about doing things in our worldly ways. Today at the car wash was a perfect example.
Our verse for this evening highlights the thoughts of Jesus on acts of kindness and giving. We are given our command in the first Gospel, written by Matthew. We are told, in Matthew 6:1-4, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
My encouragement tonight is that God sees our every move and knows our acts of kindness even if they are not evident to others. My prayer is that you will consider increasing your giving to those who provide services to us. Whether it is a server in a restaurant or the guy who gets your car out of valet parking, you can bet that the kindness you extend to them is far more important to their way of life than to yours. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…