Tuesday, January 7, 2014

free coffee and the gospel

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." 



  1. I like this post! Same thoughts about the gift card redeemers I might've had, too. I like how your perspective on Christ, too!

  2. So appreciate your honesty, Kim! I think we all struggle with this in some way… but God worked in this and I think we'll all grow and be challenged to give freely from your beautiful perspective and testimony.

    P.S. Wish I could pass my Starbucks gift card onto you right now! ;)


  3. Great word Kim. That was good encouragement for me today. It's SO challenging to live every day with a servant's heart- expecting nothing in return. I struggle with wanting my own 'justice' big time. My husband is such a sweet balance for me. Ha. Anyway, if you should ever find yourself in Michigan, I'll buy you coffee. ;)

  4. Beautiful - so perfectly written!

  5. SO glad you shared this because we ALL need it (and I got many chuckles out of your distress ;-). I LOVE when God brings humilty to us out of the most basic (and sometimes obvious!) of things.

  6. SO glad you shared this because we ALL need it (and I got many chuckles out of your distress ;-). I LOVE when God brings humilty to us out of the most basic (and sometimes obvious!) of things.

  7. Oh my ! Girl , I have been there. And it is a bummer and it hurts. Thanks for being transparent with your reaction. I love how Jesus really "takes us there" and I love that you got what he was trying to teach. Beautiful <3

  8. I SO love this post!! Partly because I watched the gift card saga unfold on Instagram and I remember feeling so badly for you, and partly because I just got home from taking someone to the grocery store and am feeling slightly taken advantage of but this - this is a fantastic reminder. We give love, we give grace because we were first loved and we have been shown unsurpassable grace. Thank you so much for writing this post, for being willing to share the less-than-pretty and the reminder of God's grace.

  9. Such a great post. I can definitely relate with that strong sense of justice. I often find that there is a lot more gray in there than I like to recognize at first. So convicting. Thank you for sharing this....such a powerful reminder of what Jesus demonstrated for us.

  10. Geez, I struggle with the exact same things. I really do care about what's right and fair and everything you said. What a beautiful truth and lesson god revealed to you and in turn to us through your honest words. I can also appreciate what your husband and his oh so subtle way of giving you perspective. Praise The Lord for husbands and their leadership. Thank you again and thank you for your kind and generous heart :)

  11. Geez, I struggle with the exact same things. I really do care about what's right and fair and everything you said. What a beautiful truth and lesson god revealed to you and in turn to us through your honest words. I can also appreciate what your husband and his oh so subtle way of giving you perspective. Praise The Lord for husbands and their leadership. Thank you again and thank you for your kind and generous heart :)

  12. yes & yes.

    my pastor spoke on this a little bit ago and he said that he prays this simple prayer:
    "i can not do the christian life. I can not love & live like you Christ. But you know that. Fill me up and you do the Christian life through me."

    I imagine myself as this empty vessel and that Christ is pouring his light out of me-- to graciously give & serve. Because on my own, when I try to fill myself up, or fill myself up with other things, it goes really poorly. I am bitter, self-serving and have little grace. And I think of myself as doing the right thing (and everyone else doesn't do it right!)

    I am grateful that my husband calls me out and I praise God that Chase does the same thing for you as well.

    Happy Tuesday, friend.

  13. YES. I am such a believer in justice and wanting things and people to be fair, but that's not promised to us and certainly isn't going to happen in a world where not everyone believes (or acts) like Jesus. Even as Christians we get it wrong time and time again and yet God still shows grace and still loves us. But yet it is SO HARD for us to show that same grace and love to the next person. This is such a great reminder of how we have to LIVE the way Jesus did, even in our modern times. Great post, friend!


  14. Thank you for sharing this post! It is such a great lesson to learn about giving. I was having the same feelings with a situation with Christmas gifts. I was knitting hats for two people who asked for them and realized I am not getting a gift back from them in return. For a moment I got upset but then I realized I was being selfish. I knew the hats would make them happy and that's all that matters. :)

    I also appreciate you sharing the Gospel as well! Something we all need to remind ourselves throughout the day.


  15. Kim, I am so sorry that all that happened just from your sweet, kind generosity. the words of your husband are encouraging to me as well. i also want everything to be fair and its heartbreaking to me and makes me feel super upset when things dont go the 'fair' way.

    i want you to know that on the day that you posted that card, i had been having a super rough morning. a morning filled with fear and anxiety about all kinds of things. a morning where i felt like no one in the world cared about me, and in the midst of it, i had a rotten attitude towards my 3 year old. i used your generous gift for an americano to lift my spirits and a hot chocolate as a treat for my little girl. i was able to use your gift to help explain to her that we get to give to others special things because Jesus gave us the most special gift of all, and we want to be like Jesus. she asked who the hot chocolate was from and i told her it was from you and she kept saynig " thanks miss oh sweet joy!" all morning long.

    thank you for your heart, your honesty, your generosity and for the opportunity for me to teach my daughter about how giving because Jesus gave is what we should do.


  16. Wow, what an amazing post. This is definitely a whole new way to look at charity in general!
    Thank you for sharing this story. It is a great modern day look at the teachings of the bible.

  17. Crap this is so good. I did this too, and loaded $50 on. Someone used it all in one purchase. TWICE. I was ticked. Love this.

  18. Hey Kim! It was so great to read this! I honestly felt the same way about how your generosity was abused when you shared the bar code! I mean where is the Christmas spirit?! I did not use it bc I work at a Starbucks & essentially get a lot of my drinks for free. I do want you to know that, there is no way that a barista can see that you have a reward unless we charge you for a drink! So that is super weird. Thanks for sharing your heart always & blessing & inspiring others!

  19. Such a good reminder!! So many times I get in that same way of thinking... but what your husband said is so true & we forget it so often. Thanks for sharing.

  20. The greatest challenge in my Christian walk right now is to be un-offendable and to praise and give Him thanks in all things! It's hard to follow him sometimes!! I'm sorry others took advantage of your kind gift however! I love how you post on here about your walk with The Lord! Blessings to you ( I hope this made some sense;)

  21. Loved this post. I, too, always try to make things fair or equal and it's so hard for me to see things negatively when something like that happens. I so appreciate your honesty in this, though, because it has reminded me that the point of giving is to give and not expect anything in return--even if I want to. Thank you for pointing me to Him once again, Kim! :)

  22. This is the sweetest post; the fact that you even posted a gift card is amazing to me, and the fact that you let Jesus teach you such a remarkable lesson when your kindess was abused is refreshing!

  23. This is such a great post Kim! I enjoyed it very much and the message truly touched my heart. We do not give to get, to receive a special reaction or to have things go our way. We give out of love for others and for Jesus! I feel inspired to live and love like that more! Your honesty is also a blessing!

  24. This is such a great post! I would feel the same way - someone used your free drink - LAME!! This is a great illustration of how we see gifts vs. how we should see gifts through the lens of Jesus. So glad to find your blog today!


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