Tony really loved being with people. Calling him a ‘people person’ was an understatement. He just had a feel and a flow about him that was engaging and genuine. This is probably what made him so good at his job in marketing. He could connect products with needs in people that made them feel he cared.
Informal social times were the best. He loved being out with friends. But there was one thing that Tony also loved … control. He really needed to be in control of situations. He became VERY uncomfortable when he felt, even in the smallest way, he wasn’t. So the evening when Tony, his wife Lisa, and John and Karen could go out to dinner was a rare treat he was enjoying.
“This has been an awesome night guys” Tony commented. “I really like it when we can get out and just spend time together.”
John smiled, “Agreed my friend. We really should do this more often.”
“More nights when I don’t have to cook or clean sounds okay by me” Lisa smirked. Karen nodded in agreement.
John looked at Tony, “Thanks buddy for making this happen.”
“My pleasure my friend.”
Just then, the waitress came with their dessert and coffee order. After placing everything on the table, she put the check for the meal in the center. John reached for it.
“I got this tonight. My treat.”
Tony looked like someone had just died. “What are you doing?”
“I told you. This evening has been such a blessing that we just want to bless you and Lisa tonight. So … my treat.”
Tony’s face became indignant. “Oh no! No way! I make a good living and I pay my own way. No handouts for me. How much do we owe you?”
Lisa looked embarrassed but she knew how Tony felt in these situations. He had trouble receiving anything from anyone.
John responded. “Are you serious? Handout? Tony! This is not a handout. We are friends and have been for 20 years. There’s a big difference between a gift and a handout.”
Tony, remembering that John was an elder in church, put together a comeback. “But doesn’t the Bible say it’s more blessed to give than to receive? I’m just trying to live by that.”
“Tony! Yes, the Bible says that. And it’s true. It is more blessed to give than to receive. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a blessing to receive at all.”
“Well, I just want to be a blessing to you.”
“Okay then. Be a blessing. It would GIVE me great joy if you would GIVE me the blessing of letting us treat you and Lisa to this meal. Can you GIVE us that blessing?”
Tony felt trapped. “It just feels so uncomfortable.”
John smiled. “My dear friend. I know you like to feel in control but it’s okay to let other people give into your life too.”
“And what am I supposed to do when that happens?”
“Uh … just say thank you?”
Tony looked down at his coffee. He knew John was right and that he had blown this way out of proportion. He looked up.
“Uh … thank you.”
John gasped and grabbed his chest as if in distress. “Wow. Oh my goodness. Right before my eyes. It happened!”
Tony was puzzled. “What happened?”
Everyone laughed. John gave the waitress his credit card and when Tony offered to take care of the tip he nearly threw his apple pie at him. Tony settled down as did everyone.
“Those really aren’t awful words Tony. I knew you could do it. I think you’ll find being thankful more often will truly make life the blessing God intended it to be.”
Tony responded shyly. “Agreed.”
John thought to himself how much he cared about his friend and hoped that this lesson would truly bring him closer to God. Just then Tony, looking re-energized, perked up.
“But next time, I’m buying. Deal?”
John thought “Oh well, moment short lived. But at least I’m glad I was here to see it.”
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