Gnats and Camels and Coupons

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel! Matthew 23: 23-24

I haven't strained my water for gnats lately, but I'm pretty sure I'd be a water strainer if I lived in a time without clean, running water. I'm a girl who is anti-insect consumption. However, I'm sure I've swallowed a few spiritual camels in my time. Don't we all just miss the point sometimes?

Well, one time not too long ago, I didn't miss the point. Hallelujah! Miracles happen. The fact that this rule lovin' mama ever gets the point behind it all is a praise that needs to go up.

I am what I like to call a good steward. Some might call me a penny pincher or even a tight-wad. I prefer to look at the positive aspects of the fact that I hate to let go of even a cent for something that I see as unnecessary. Combine this with my recent attempts to feed my family "real food," and there is some major stress going on during my trips to the grocery store. Apparently, food that will kill you is cheap. Healthy food...not so much.

I was excited a couple of weeks ago when there were some sweet potato fries that were on sale (and that barely squeaked by my not-as-strict-as-it-could-be list of acceptable foods) and I had a coupon for. Again, not many coupons for not-gonna-kill-you foods, so I was pumped to actually have one. I happily headed to the register with Maddie, full of excitement as I waited for the "-$.55" to scroll across the screen as the checker scanned my little piece of golden paper.

Beep. Puzzled look. Again, beep. Again, puzzled look. I could see this was not going as well as I'd hoped.

Apparently, the nice little high tech scanner didn't want me to save $.55 on my fries. I expected the checker to call for help, but she just kept scanning and looking puzzled. Now, this being Publix, the store of all stores when it comes to customer service, I knew that I could go to greater lengths and walk out that door with my $.55. I could see the checker wasn't going to do much of anything for me and I started to get irritated, but then that soft, gentle whisper just said, "Amy, let it go."

Que the internal battle over $.55, which was really so much more in my mind. But as I felt my daughter's presence beside me and looked into the puzzled but not so helpful face of the cashier, I knew it wasn't worth it. I could choose to avoid hassling that cashier and putting anyone out over a few cents or I could choose my self-satisfaction at getting what was rightfully mine.

By the grace of God, I just smiled, said "It's okay," and reached out to retrieve my now useless coupon.

I had forgotten about the incident until last night, when I recounted it to my accountability group. (Yes, I bored them with this story before I chose to bore you with it. I'm generous with boredom-inducing talk like that.) I thought it might be an appropriate, yet slightly lame, example of the Scripture we were studying. (See above.)

Saving a few cents isn't a bad thing, and it's even something I feel called to do as a wife and manager of our household. But I just knew somehow that putting that worker (and maybe additional workers) out over that small amount wasn't the right thing to do. It would appear stingy and petty, not frugal and wise.

So tonight, I went to Publix, filled my buggy with lots of real food (and some hot dogs for Chris's camping excursion, because nitrites and nitrates are powerless to harm you when consumed while sitting around a campfire) and headed to check out, while simultaneously fighting the urge to throw up when I thought of what the total of my bill would likely be.

As I chose to smile and ignore the giant number at the bottom of the screen, I scanned my debit card. The cashier pulled a coupon off of an item I was purchasing and gave it to the customer service worker. "She'll take care of that coupon for you at the desk." Now, I knew very well that the coupon was not for any item I was purchasing (and so did the cashier), so I had not pulled it off the item myself. But I ended up walking out of the store with $1 cash in my wallet anyway.

As the swooshie doors closed behind me on my way to the car, I remembered. "See, Amy. You didn't need that $.55 after all."

Obedience brings blessings, just not always when or how we expect them. Thanks, God. :) I'll try my best to use that dollar wisely. Of course.


  1. I want a redo on accountability. I hate I missed it!


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