The Joy In Doing Unto Others

 I Could Be Wrong
By Rev. Dr. Bob LeFavi

Wouldn’t you love to see the look on someone’s face when they receive a big unexpected gift?

I think we all have dreams about being party to the joy such a gift can bring to someone who can use it, especially when that gift comes from those who give out of the goodness of their heart. For instance, such an experience makes the headlines when a restaurant server receives an enormous tip from a stranger.

That kind of joy is something that gives back. The pure joy and grace of such a gift appears to light the hearts of those involved, like a wildfire. And I think it does so because we can imagine the enormity of what it would feel like to be on the receiving end. It would be truly humbling and, at least for some, would cause us to thank God for those involved.

How interesting it is that often it is simply a seemingly small decision made by a person who considers the joy of giving and receiving that facilitates a cascade of goodness.

Recently, the Rincon police caught onto a fairly large crime and confiscated approximately $15,000 of Walmart gift cards. The cards were not fraudulent. They were legitimate cards and could be used by those who had them. They were just purchased with fraudulent funds, so Walmart would have never collected anything.

Because these cards were seized by the Rincon Police Department as evidence in a financial crime, where the owners of the funds could not be identified, the funds were ultimately forfeited. Since Walmart could not claim ownership, they were awarded to the Rincon Police Department.

Now, Chief Phillip Scholl is a bright guy. I guarantee that, if he wanted to, he could have easily figured out a way he or his department could personally and directly benefit from these funds. But no. Chief Scholl decided to do something more. Instead, the chief decided he and his officers would go to Walmart the days before Thanksgiving and, in a covert and random manner, would pay for the customers’ items upon checkout. They would simply walk up to the cashier unannounced and swipe a card.

K9 handler Officer Michael Giaquinto, popularly known as “Gio,” said, “People couldn’t believe it. Swiping those cards and seeing the look on their faces was the most fun I have had in a long time.” Chief Scholl had customers hug him in tears.

Detective Matt Wilhoite had an experience that he will likely not forget for a while. There was a couple from out of town visiting family locally. When they arrived they were surprised how little their relatives had. So, they decided to go out and buy a ton of groceries and items the family needed.

Upon checkout, when Detective Wilhoite swiped a card to pay for their items, the couple was incredulous. They looked at one another and asked, “Did you do this?” They thought it was a set-up. They had just decided that they were going to give everything they could to help their family in need, and here was someone else taking on the cost. They simply could not believe it was a coincidence.

Of course, there are no coincidences. There is only God, and His goodness reflected in the acts of others.

Now, customers who received these gifts could have easily just thanked the officers and went on their way, appreciative of their windfall. But no. “What blew me away,” said Officer Giaquinto, “was how many people took the card with money left on it and passed it to the next person. It was remarkable to see people want to pay it forward.”

About these cards, Chief Scholl said, “This was an opportunity to seize those unlawfully obtained funds from criminals, which were certainly meant for criminal gain, and give it back to those whom it was taken from.”

The chief added, “While there were only a few families that the Rincon Police Department was able to help with their purchases, there were possibly many more, unseen families benefiting from this good fortune. People were taking the opportunity to turn and purchase groceries for those behind them in line, or even save their own money to buy gifts for their children. There was certainly a ripple effect caused by this program, which warms my heart.”

And all it took was for someone like Police Chief Phillip Scholl to decide to live Jesus’s commandment, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)

Like a wildfire.

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