On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" When he saw them, he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of then, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, "Were not ten made clean? Where are the other nine?"
A couple of years ago, I was standing in line at our UPS store, waiting to pick up our seemingly endless supply of odds and ends from Amazon. Looking over at the young guys, boys really, manning their computer screens with hoards of U-Verses stacked behind them and hearing customer after customer voice complaint after complaint about shipping, costs, boxes, AT&T, parking, and whatnot, I couldn't help but feel their weariness. One kid, Thomas, bowed over with his arms splayed out on the counter, wore such an empty, zoned-out look that, well, I felt I needed to do something—anything—to help the kids out.
Still fifth or sixth in line, I took out my phone and ordered a couple of Meat Lovers' pizzas. Told Pizza Hut to bring them right into the store. Hanging up the phone, somehow I was next in line. Thomas gave me his empty stare, and I tried to cheer him up a bit, but my 5 or 6 packages didn't really help. I left the store without mentioning the pizzas at all.
Back a few days later to pick up our constant Amazon stream, you'd have thought I healed a leper. All the guys' faces had brightened when I walked in, and two of them broke off from their customers to track down my packages and personally hand them to me. I told them over the grouchy faces in line that I could wait just like everyone else, but they wouldn't hear it. And, you know, they kept it up for the next six months. People began to wonder whether I owned the store or something. I mean, they had instructed the new guys to drop everything they were doing, even with other customers, when I walked in the door. All because I ordered a couple of pizzas that cost me less than $20 that day.
And you know, while it's nice to be treated so well, the biggest kick for me was surprising them with some grace. I just love it. Those weren't the last two pizzas I've bought for that store. Over the last couple of years I've had pizzas delivered five or six times. It's always a surprise. I just do it whenever the urge strikes. I had two delivered yesterday just because, well, it was Saturday and why not? And the next time I see them, when they have my packages all stacked neatly on the counter before I even walk through the door, I'll let 'em know one way or another that it's Christ within me that's showing them that grace.
But compare this to professional preachers that my wife and I have given to over the years. I haven't counted it up, but I know that we've given to some as high as five figures, all in support of the Gospel. And you know what? Only three have ever personally thanked us for those offerings: Danita of Danita's Children, Joey Roberts, and Joe Morris. This ought not be. How hard can it be to sit down and personally thank someone who has given to your livelihood? Or just pick up the phone and call them to let them know how much their gifts are so appreciated? Christians—and especially preachers—should bubble over with graciousness, even in the smallest of things. Why? Because the Light came down.
Note: Talk about graciousness, missionaries at Danita's Children pay their own way to work in Haiti.