A few weeks ago, I posted a gift card on instagram and loaded it up with $50. I posted a photo of the gift card so that baristas could scan it and coffee would be on me for a few people that morning. I've made so many real connections via running my small business, through the influence network, and just by being a part this
small huge world of blogging and social media. Since I can't take everyone to coffee ((what, with us being spread out across the country and all)), I thought I'd treat a few people.
Before I knew it ((literally two screen refreshes later)), it was empty and I went to "recent transactions" to see how many people got to get free coffee. I was so giddy and I was anticipating such a feel good moment. Then I noticed that three people spent $8-11. Fewer people got to enjoy free coffee because a few people got "greedy" ((I'm being dramatic. It's possible that they could have really needed breakfast or that they bought the drink behind them too)) and ordered either a huge fancy drink or also got a fancy drink plus a breakfast sandwich. Several people commented that it was already empty and I felt bad, so I reloaded it again.
It went quickly and I tried to not let the three that spent more than "their share" bother me. Easier said than done.
You see, I have a strong sense of justice. I typically place a huge emphasis on right and wrong and like most people - I don't like being taken advantage of. I'm not sure why, but I just couldn't shake it. It rubbed me the wrong way and I was bitter about it ((super mature, I know)). Looking back, it's really just a clear example of me not truly understanding and not living out the gospel. I just wasn't getting it.
I wanted to give a gift. I didn't even realize it at the time, but I was giving a gift that had conditions. That gift was limited. The gift was freely given unless you took advantage of it. The gift was for you unless you didn't appreciate it or decided to use it flippantly. Ew. Again, not exactly understanding the gospel over here.
I eventually forgot about it and the next day I noticed that I had lots of stars so, worse case scenario, I got a free drink out of the deal because I had registered it under my Gold card. I totally forgot about that little perk. I decided I would wait until we got to Texas and I would redeem that free drink there. On Christmas day, we went to Starbucks with Chase's sister and our brother-in-law. I checked my Starbucks app to pull up the reward to find that someone else had redeemed it. COME ON.
I imagine the conversation went like this,
Barista: "There isn't any more money on your card, but there is a free drink reward - did you want to redeem it?"
Customer Who Redeemed my Free Drink: "Sure!"
There wasn't anyone telling them, "THAT ISN'T YOUR GOLD CARD! SOMEONE ELSE EARNED THAT!" It was surely unintentional and harmless.
But…it crushed me all over again. Here I am, trying to do something nice, something good... trying to spread some Christmas cheer and people took advantage of me over and over. I pouted and Chase looks me in the eyes and says, "Well, Jesus was always trying to do good things and people killed him." True. I'm not comparing my starbucks gift card instagram effort to Jesus, but He was right. What am I to expect?
God knew when He sent Jesus down as a baby to grow up and die for ALL of mankind's sins that we would screw it up. He knew that we would take advantage of His grace. He knew that we'd botch it time and time again. He knew that we would take His mercy for granted. He knew…but he gave us that gift anyways. He gave us Christ to die for our inevitable stupidity and sin. Why am I not, in turn, able to live that way every day? If Christ's example is what I strive for as a Christian, why can't I load a Starbucks gift card to give to my followers and readers without being bitter when someone doesn't follow the ((unspoken)) rules?
So, I set out to spread some Christmas cheer and got a big ol' gospel and life lesson on giving gifts unconditionally. What if we lived like this every day? What if we gave and served and lived as Jesus does? What would it look like if we made the conscious decision to give KNOWING that people could and can and will take advantage of us from time to time? Not that we would be pushovers, but that we would be such doers of the Word and such lovers of grace that we could always have a posture of humility and servanthood. I pray often that God would give me the desire to live out the Gospel radically in my life. I want that so much. This is one way that the Lord has basically said, "Alright, prove it. Let's do this."