The Milk of Human Kindness
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38 NIV)
by Pastor Steve Schantz
Someone could write a book about the inflated prices charged for incidentals at airports. Location – Burbank, CA, Bob Hope International. Item – a cup of Tully’s Coffee purchased at a stand near the departure gates. Tully’s offers a steaming cup of exported adrenal rush shipped in from their Northwest headquarters. I was next in line as the customer in front of me paid five dollars for her cup of Java, turned away from the counter momentarily, and then stepped back to ask the clerk for a soy-milk creamer to go with the dark brew now warming her hands. She didn’t ask for a container to go, nor that it be steam pressed it into her cup. She didn’t ask for mocha, vanilla, butterscotch, or creme brulee syrups to stir in. She just asked for enough creamer to lighten her serving. “Soy creamer is .65 per serving” the cashier blurted out.” “You’re kidding!” she replied with annoyance. “I won’t be stopping here again for coffee!” and gripping her black brew she turned on her heels and marched past me toward a seat near the departure gate.
As I paid for my own tall mocha I thought, ‘How much should the soy milk of human kindness cost? Really? How far can and should a special request intrude into our profit and loss statement in the marketplace of life? Maybe soy prices surged and Tully’s had to make a price adjustment. Coffee markets are competitive, and to stay in business a company has to pass their cost along. But if soy milk is going for .65 an ounce at coffee stands, how will the parents of a lactose intolerant child afford it at volume price points? And we wouldn’t want a part time barista to steal soy milk at the customer’s whim. That won’t work. We need something better, something from the grounds up – but what?
Tully’s website was on the cardboard jacket of my cup, but I’m not suggesting a company boycott nor dissing them in a blog. (My mocha was actually pretty good!) But somewhere back in the day this business was a Mom and Pop family dream. Something to be handed down to the next generation with pride. Many companies have been birthed through the personal labor pains of caring owners who put their own blood, sweat, and tears into a quality product. Those who lived to give the customer a little more than they asked for rather than the level teaspoon and when a baker’s dozen was commonplace. Where hospitality and generosity were poured from the same pot and fulfilled a vision that went deeper than a plastic smile at the counter.
It’s really a way of life we are talking about here which goes beyond impressing the customer. And it’s a much richer brew than simply applying a good capitalistic business model. This kind of giving can only come from a great giver. When we know and trust The Giver of all good things, it works a deep and profound expression through us as we give to and for others. With our eyes and our hands open we respond to the question Cain posed in his moment of personal darkness, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” with a resounding “Yes! For Heaven’s sake Yes!” It happens every time we decide to sacrifice personally on someone else’ behalf. (Or in this case, someone else’ ‘half and half’.)
Since this airport incident I’ve had time to reflect on my personal response while waiting in line next to this customer. How could her simple request have taken a different turn? How easy should it have been for me to purchase that sixty-five cent serving of soy milk and then walk over and surprise this stranger with a treat? (Yes, she may have cried out stranger danger to the airport security!) But isn’t a good cup of coffee and conversation worth the risk? If not you or me, who? If not now, when?
In order to be the kind of giver who presses down for good measure until something overflows, I needed to upsize my measuring spoon.
The milk of human kindness really has its’ source in the one who became human on our behalf. In His self-emptying we can respond with sincere generosity as we allow Him to fill our empty cup. Growing up in Christ means learning there will always be enough to share as we trust the great provider.