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Starbucks and Ingratitude



"I'll Take a Grande, Soy, 1-Pump Caramel Latte Without the Gratitude Please"

Starbucks. (Insert forceful positive or negative reaction to that word here. Done? Ok, good. Let's move on). Regardless of what you think about the Seattle-based company, a recent decision from the coffee giant has people up in arms. Sadly, the angst over this new policy is a window into the hearts of ungrateful men and women standing in lines by Morning Buns and Cake Pops all around our nation.
What did Starbucks do wrong? They revamped their reward program. You know, the one where they give free coffee to people. Yes, they certainly might be giving less free coffee, but they are still giving people FREE COFFEE. Previous to this change, customers earned a star for every transaction they made. After 12 stars there would be a reward of a free food or drink item. The new program now rewards people based on dollars spent. So, a person who normally spends less money takes longer to earn a free item. And people are irate. "It sucks, but what am I going to do," said one customer. Recently, Mac-toting and earbud-wearing hipsters across the 50 states have been tweeting their criticisms to Starbucks over their audacious new plan.

 Angry Bird Latte

A good gift is now criticized because it's not as good as the gift previously given. Remember, it's still FREE COFFEE. Should not Starbucks be allowed to determine how much of their own coffee they give away? And, should not people who receive FREE COFFEE be grateful instead of critical? Jesus told a parable once about people who complain when others earn the same amount of income as they do, but who work fewer hours in the day for it. While this was a message to unbelieving Israel about the soon-to-be rapid Gentile inclusion into the kingdom of God, the same type of criticism is still present. A generous Gift-giver is criticized for how He determines to give away His gifts. "Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity" (Matt 20:15)?

One can get a window into the lack of gratitude in a society by examining how its members respond to a gift. If your child stuck his bottom lip out and pouted because last Christmas Aunt Kathy gave him two trucks and this Christmas he only got one, you'd be embarrassed. You'd be really embarrassed if your son had the same attitude when he was 29. That's where we are. We have become a people whose selfishness and entitlement mindset are at war against humble gratitude. And we don't even recognize how spoiled we are. I know that there are more serious consequences to ingratitude. My aim is not to say that anger over a Starbucks policy change is the height of ingratitude, but it is a window into the heart of ingratitude.

Grumpy Dude

As Christians we must be careful that we don't get sucked into the complaining spirit that permeates the culture around us. We must be different. We must be grateful to the Lord for every good gift that we receive (James 1:17). Imagine, two friends standing in a line at Starbucks that is 8 people deep (it shouldn't be too hard to imagine). Sarah tells Emma that she's glad they are meeting together to study the Bible and that she really needs help to understand what God's will is for her in this next season of life. A few minutes go by and Sarah and Emma have placed their orders and are told by the young man at the register that the rewards program has been changed and that they actually have to pay for their drinks today. "If you spend 4 more dollars, you'll get a free item. So next time..." With a small huff, loud enough for the cashier and the man in line behind them to hear, Sarah scrounges for $1.50 in her wallet and says, "That stinks. I like the old way better." The man whose been listening to their entire conversation about God's will and the new rewards program stinking, and Emma have both been witness to a complaining and ungrateful heart. And now it's time for the ladies to sit down and have a conversation about what God wants from Sarah's life. The man follows behind them and grabs the table next to them. Emma and Sarah open their Bibles. What wouldn't you give to have Emma open her Bible to 1 Thessalonians 5:18 and read it aloud to Sarah, "give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

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