Do not eat the food of a stingy man,
do not crave his delicacies;
for he is the kind of man
who is always thinking about the cost.
“Eat and drink,” he says to you,
but his heart is not with you.
You will vomit up the little you have eaten
and will have wasted your compliments.
–Proverbs 23:6-8 (NIV)
Ouch! That’s me, I realized when we read this a while back:
- We keep our house cool in the winter and warm in the summer, and when guests came over to our house I resisted changing the temperature for their comfort.
- When snow fell and there was ice on the driveway, I resisted putting salt out, because then we’d quickly run out and have to buy more.
I am not saying that all who make such decisions are sinning as I was, but I can assure you that when I made them it was from a heart of stinginess. And (like roaches) when you see one or two such decisions flowing from that kind of heart, you know there must be more!
Our water softener died two or three years ago. It was a model from the ’80s, and its time had come. At the time of its death, it had quite a bit of rock salt left in its brine tank. I didn’t want to waste that salt (besides, it would have been too heavy to carry the brine tank up out of the basement with all that salt in it); so I scooped the salt out into bags. It was not the kind of salt that the new water softener was supposed to take, so I thought, “Fine! We’ll use it as a lifetime supply of driveway salt.”
Now a funny thing happened to me when I suddenly had piles of driveway salt that was dirty and otherwise useless unless I used it on the driveway: my attitude toward ice on the driveway completely changed. Instead of my typical internal grumbling if I had to use some of my hoarded salt, now I was glad for opportunities to use some — I had more than I needed. I began to think more of my wife’s, children’s, and visitors’ safety — where some salt might be most helpful in preventing a fall — instead of dwelling on how to use the least salt I could.
Halfway through this winter, I’m about to crack open the last of those bags of rock salt. But you know what? When that one’s gone, I intend to buy some more rock salt and keep applying it generously, because my heart has been changed.
See, I serve a God who can strike a water softener to warm the heart of a stingy man. And that’s what he did for me. I need not fear, I need not dwell on regrets — for he who began a good work will be faithful to complete it in me!