Since preaching on the topic of generosity back in April, I have tried to make "generosity" an active part of my life - literally looking for ways to be more generous. I am convinced that generosity is one of the keys to seeing God's blessing on my life. I saw this demonstrated in a very real way while on vacation this past week. Here's the story:
While driving to our hotel in North Carolina, my wife and I pulled into a rest area (we tend to pull into just about every rest area while travelling which is why no matter what the speed limit is, we will only average about 50 miles per hour on any trip we take - but that's not really part of the story). As we were walking back to our car from the restrooms another car pulled in right next to ours. A man got out of the car and with a look of panic on his face said the following words to me,
"Sir, I promise you I am not a bum but I just got a call telling me that my mom was rushed to the hospital and I left quickly without my wallet and am about out of gas. I have never asked anyone for money like this before but could you help me out?"
At this moment my mind immediately went to "skepticism" and "caution." I guess society has conditioned me to think that anyone who asks for money most be some kind of a con and this guy was probably no different. I had to make a quick decision. The way I see it, there were two options.
Option #1 - This guys was a con needing another drug fix or alcoholic drink.
Option #2 - This guy's mom was really just rushed to the hospital and he really did forget his wallet in the frenzy of leaving and his tank really was on empty.
The safe reaction would be for me to say that I couldn't help him. There were, however, two problems with that.
Problem #1 - I would be lying as I had more cash than usual in my wallet due to being on vacation
Problem #2 - If his story really was true he needed the help
So with my own sermons on generosity racing through my mind I reached into my wallet and gave the guy a $20 bill. $20 isn't much but it could certainly put some gas into his tank (if that truly was his need). Yeah, maybe he laughed as he drove away to visit his drug dealer or to head to the nearest bar, but who was I to judge if he was telling the truth or taking a preacher from up north for a gullible ride. As I drove out of the rest area I wondered if I had helped...I wondered if God was pleased with my decision.
A few hours later we pulled into our hotel and I had pretty much forgotten about my $20 encounter until I checked in at the front desk. Prior to vacation I had spent a lot of time on the internet searching for a hotel room for 4 nights in Raleigh, North Carolina that was clean yet affordable. I was proud of my conquest as I landed a hotel with a total cost for 4 nights including tax resting at $333.00. As I checked in, the sweet gal behind the counter took me by surprise when she said the following,
"I noticed you booked your room for 4 nights for $333.00 including tax. That's a good rate but I think we can do better. We are running a special right now which is for 5-nights and the total cost including tax will be $253.00. Why don't you let me book you for 5 nights at that rate and you will save $80.00 even though you are only staying 4-nights instead of five."
I smiled as she spoke. Out of a desire to be obedient to God and live a generous life, I took a chance on a guy in a rest area that I did not know - a chance that cost me $20. I don;t know if I got ripped off by him or not but I do know that a few hours later, completely out of the blue, I got $80 knocked off my hotel bill. The way I see it - that's a 400% profit.
Yes, generosity pays! But the biggest payday wasn't in the $60 gain to my advantage, The biggest windfall was in knowing that I had stepped out on faith and obeyed God's Word which tells to be ready to be generous and I believed God was indeed pleased with my decision!