True faith will cost you everything – including five bucks
During the month of February, McDonald’s put on a “free coffee” promotion. Since I always start the day off with a little hot caffeine and since I am not all that picky about my coffee, I usually took advantage once or twice a week during the last month. Two bucks for a sandwich, hash brown and small coffee -no cream, no sugar- was too good a deal to pass up.
One morning, I made my order and proceeded to the first window and handed a $10 bill to the young lady standing at the cash register. She handed me $7 plus change and I started to pull up to the second window. When my car was almost past the first window, I looked down to discover that I was only holding two dollars and change. I immediately braked and backed up to the window to tell the server that I had only been given change for five dollars and reminded her that I had given a ten dollar bill. She immediately apologized and handed me a five to make up the deficit.
I proceeded to drive to work and get on with the day. When I got home late in the afternoon, Mrs. Stew asked me to run to the grocery store and I invited our three kids to join me on the trip in order to get them out of my wife’s hair for a couple of minutes. After securing the children in their seats and safety belts, I happened to look down toward the brake pedal in our van and noticed a slightly crumpled five dollar bill sitting on the floor. I quickly picked it up and started to stuff it into my wallet thinking it was my lucky day . . . until it dawned on me where that money came from.
When the server handed me my change, the wind probably caused the five on the bottom of the pile to hang down and I only grabbed the two ones on top, plus the change. The five fluttered down to the floorboard of my car without attracting attention. It took me a couple moments of internal debate, but I knew what I had to do, especially since I was going to drive past McDonald’s on the way to the grocery store anyway.
I pulled up to the drive-through speaker and stated that I did not have an order, but wanted to return five dollars to the till. I pulled up to the window and handed the money to the slightly surprised cashier. As I drove past the second window, the manager flagged me down and asked for an explanation. I told her what happened and she confirmed that the morning shift cashier’s drawer had come up short. She thanked me and then gave me a free cup of coffee . . .
So why did I return the money? Was it because I am some ethically perfect person? Was it because five bucks is not that much money? Did I do it in order to teach my kids a lesson? ? First, I am far from some kind of ethical giant, I very nearly stuck that money in my wallet without another thought. Second, in the Stew household, five dollars is a good amount of money. Third, this situation did provide the opportunity to disciple my children, although if I had stuck the five dollars in my pocket, they would have been none the wiser.
I was motivated by three things:
Fear of eternity
Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. 2 Peter 1:10,11
A desire to follow Christ
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:27
To confirm my salvation
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God. . . Philippians 2:12-15a
You see, the Bible makes it clear that a true Christian will follow and submit to Christ. I was faced with the following two choices: a) keep the money and admit that I am not who I say I am: a Christian or b) return the money, submit to Christ and trust him to provide for my needs.