Years ago, there was a news story not carried by the major outlets. It was about a massive snowstorm that had stranded motorists in the south, around Birmingham, Alabama. There were interviews with drivers in their vehicles, stuck on frozen roadways. But the part not widely publicized involved the much-vilified Chick-fil-A fast-food chain, which made all kinds of news years back for the comments of its Christian president in response to an interviewer’s question on gay marriage. The stigma hangs over the restaurant to this day. Some won’t spend their money there because they mistakenly believe the whole organization is anti-gay.
What did not make major news during that storm was that the employees of the local Chick-fil-A couldn’t get home either. So they decided to help the stranded drivers by giving them food at no cost! “We cooked several hundred sandwiches and stood out on both sides of [Highway] 280 and handed out the sandwiches to anyone we could get to—as long as we had food to give out.”
There is more to Chick-fil-A’s Christian values than a belief in traditional marriage and the fact that they are closed on Sundays. Handing out free food to people in need is just a reflection of the love of Christ that governs much of what they do. They also let people come in and get out of the cold, allowing them to sleep on their benches. Not that a non-Christian company wouldn’t do such a thing, but there’s little doubt that a Christian worldview influenced the spur-of-the-moment decision. Christians don’t have the corner on generosity, but it’s not surprising they would show it under these circumstances.
As Todd Starnes noted online in his article for FoxNews.com, Jesus said in Matthew, “I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” It was definitely a heart (and body) warming story that unfortunately few people heard about. In a way, it’s good that it doesn’t make the news when Christians simply do what they’re supposed to do.
Nevertheless, some skeptics who saw this story—self-described avowed atheists—took no time to point out that doing such a deed was nothing more than a publicity stunt. A couple even proudly demonstrated their knowledge of Scripture, pointing out that such acts of kindness were in opposition to the clear teaching of Jesus, referencing Matthew 6:1-4:
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
So does the atheist have a point? This much I can guarantee, there was no cluster of atheists out there firing up their grills to cook anything for stranded motorists in the name of benevolent godlessness that night. They weren’t hiding behind snowbanks, stealthily handing out food to needy drivers to make sure no one noticed. No, if anything, despite their disbelief, they use Matthew 6 for assurance that it’s the spiritual thing to do nothing, while Christians are chumps for making an effort. Wrong again!
Jesus also said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Never trust an atheist to dispense Scripture accurately on any topic! There’s that little line in the Matthew 6 passage that warns, “…so that they may be honored by men” (vs. 2). It all comes down to the reason we do what we do.
If Chick-fil-A fed and sheltered needy travelers in order to be honored by people, they have their reward in full. But, if it was for God, that’s the right motive. God looks at the heart; it’s all about motivation, Mr. Atheist—motivation! The question is: For whom are we doing good works?
“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good” —Luke 6:45