Exemplary Behavior

Aaron Collins

There have been a number of recent events involving shooters who kill one or more people in public outbursts with guns.  The speculation rages that maybe these events have the ability to stimulate others to similar acts.  This is especially true when events are highly publicized.  One theory is that the publicity is a reward in itself.  Everyone wants their fifteen seconds of fame, even if it results in being shot by the police or a lifetime in jail.  Another kind of logic suggests that someone who is on the edge sees the publicity and is pushed over the edge.  Anecdotally, it does seem that one violent event seems to spawn others.  We call them ‘copy-cat’ incidents.

Have you ever thought about the other side of the coin?  How much do good things stimulate others to similar good works?  In a recent sermon I mentioned Aaron Collins who passed away on July 7, 2012.   In his will he asked his brother Seth to pay off the money he owed his parents from his estate and to do a strange thing; leave an “awesome” tip.  He was clear that he was not thinking of a few dollars, but to leave $500 for a pizza!  Seth made preparations to do as Aaron asked.  He mentioned the tip on his Facebook page when he left the tip.  So many were inspired that three weeks later his family had received almost $50,000 and they are leaving $500 tips all across Kentucky.  The interesting thing is that this story has also stimulated a number of copycat tips as well.   This out-pouring of generosity toward food service workers, who generally are folks living hand-to-mouth is inspiring!  Makes me want to leave some generous tips.  Doesn’t it do the same for you?

A few years ago I heard about a plane filled with business executives who travelled often.  The stewardess began calling names of those frequent fliers were entitled to an up-grade to first class.  The first man stood up and said he wanted his upgrade to go to a soldier who was on the flight returning from Iraq or Afghanistan.  The plane cheered as the soldier who had never flown first class took his seat.  The same thing happened to the next upgrade and the next.  Each time a cheer went up.  Generous behavior is contagious.

Every parent knows that her/his children begin to mimic the behavior of their parents.  There have been times that I wish I could choose the things my children mimic!  Our examples affect others in the world and especially in the community of faith.  Grace exhibited by one person stimulates others to be gracious.  Generosity by one person creates an atmosphere of generosity in a whole group of people.  Our behaviors, good or bad, can be infectious.  The author of the book of Hebrews calls those who follow Christ to “stimulate one another to good works” {And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds Heb 10:24} Titus tells us that we should show ourselves “in all respects a model of good works.” {2:7}  Maybe when Jesus tells us that we are to be salt and light in the world {Matthew 5:13-16} he is indicating that our behavior is not just for our own standing before God, it is for His people and the whole world to see what a life with Christ being formed in it looks like.

For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. {Eph. 2:10}  What does your life look like?  I want mine to be more of an inspiration and so I’m asking God to show me some ways to demonstrate a ‘Godly gratitude’ and you know what?  I’ve already left tips of 50% three times.  It feels GREAT!  Thanks Aaron for your example!


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