The comments following yesterday's post on tipping must be the most spirited conversation to date on this blog! Which is really interesting... in my opinion, far more interesting than the original post!
The comments range from "you must tip every time or you're a pietistic 'Judas'" to "sign me up for the protest against tipping." Every so often, an observation about the gospel itself peeks through the chatter... but only every blue moon.
But on the whole, the comments in the blogosphere remind me of a lot of evangelical preaching I hear (and perhaps my own, I need to go back and listen to some of my sermons). The preacher starts with a text (hopefully), offers an application, then insists on the binding authority of the application rather than the text. That seems to be the pattern in some of the comments: allude to or cite a text related to giving or generosity, apply it to tipping, then insisting on obligatory tipping. And is often the case with bad applications in preaching, some of the comments suggest or state that those not adhering to the "law of the application" are misers, stingy or greedy, while those who do adhere are generous, virtuous and righteous.
However we feel about tipping, we should certainly refrain from assigning motives and judging hearts when it comes to individual behavior in this regard... especially absent anything remotely close to a command to tip or to be "generous" in that particular way. "For the judgment we judge, we shall surely be judged."
And surely it's legitimate to raise the question of faithful and effective stewardship when it comes to giving and tipping. Posing alternatives doesn't make a person a pietist or a greedy thief like Judas. Many of my die-hard tipping friends pass a dozen homeless people on the way to the restaurant, never stopping to give anything to them, and sometimes are angrily opposed to that kind of "charity." The homeless man or woman ends up homeless for any number of reasons... some good, some bad. Shouldn't we protect the most vulnerable in society? Doesn't that include folks in dire straits? Why should anyone who chooses thoughtfully to give their money to a person on the street instead of a waiter be thought poorly of? Or, at the least, shouldn't we order a meal for the homeless person down the block from our favorite restaurant if we're not going to give them cash? How many of us absolve ourselves of any responsibility for greater social problems because we do things like tip a waiter?
These, I think, are good questions... not pietistic self-righteousness or greediness.You see? There I go... feeling the pressure to defend myself because I don't feel obligated to tip. And even now choking down the urge to say, "But I do tip, I do tip!" That pressure is not righteous; it curbs our freedom in Christ and clouds the stewardship and bigger justice questions the previous post rather ineffectively tries to raise.
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