Throw Away the Receipts
Receipts are the physical or electronic documents that serve as proof of a financial transaction. Go to a restaurant and several of them will ask you to sign the merchant copy of a receipt, while you get to keep a customer copy. If there is a CVS near where you live, after making your purchase you’ll get a receipt so lengthy that even Santa might confuse it for his global gift list in the lead-up to Christmas. Some places have heard the frustrations many people have with paper receipts. In fact, at my favorite grocery store, I am now asked if I would like to choose a short or long receipt. Short or long receipt? No brainer. Of course, I’m going with the short receipt.
I must admit that I have an ongoing love-hate relationship with receipts. It is important to have such records, so you ensure that you were not overcharged, or undercharged for that matter. Keeping receipts allows you to track your finances and stay within the parameters of a budget. Nevertheless, they can be a nuisance. Why are they a nuisance? Well, if you keep receipts, you’ve got to find a place to put them. Typically, I have more receipts in my wallet than dollar bills. No, that’s not because I am broke as a joke. I just don’t carry cash around with me that often. Do people carry cash anymore? Perhaps you do. Air high five to you for doing so. Nevertheless, I typically have more receipts in my wallet than dollar bills because that wallet is an easy place to store those thin pieces of paper. So, in time my wallet will become too fat to carry, which will cause me to have to empty the receipts into a filing cabinet we keep in our garage.
If you were to open that filing cabinet in our garage today, you’d probably find I have receipts from purchases made nearly ten years ago. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which takes all your money through taxes, would tell you that it is only necessary to keep receipts for about three years. That is so you have records available, just in case they choose to audit your finances. Other financial consultants would tell you to keep receipts for up to 7 years. As you might assume, it’s probably time for me to throw away some of those receipts. They are not necessary anymore. Nothing on them will help me in the future.
If you think my record-keeping habits are bizarre, it should be known that there are people in our world today who take record-keeping to the next level. I’ve read stories of people who have receipts for every purchase they’ve made over the last 30-40 years. That is bonkers to me. Perhaps the most fascinating story I’ve come across concerning the act of holding on to receipts is the famous Palmer House Hotel in downtown Chicago. This iconic hotel has been around since 1873 and it was purchased by hotel magnate Conrad Hilton in 1945. Rumor has it, that around the time he purchased the Palmer House, a tradition was started that continues to this day. Here is that tradition. If you can provide an original receipt, provided by the Palmer House, that is more than 50 years old, they will honor whatever rate you paid back then. That means you will pay far less than what the present-day rate is. Now here is the catch, you have to allow them to keep the original receipt so they can place it in their archives.
Now, didn’t I tell you I was going to share a fascinating story? Let’s dive into that now. Originally published by the Chicago Tribune in 2016, the story revolves around a woman by the name of Jean Mackie. Mackie stated that at the time the article was written, she had not been to Chicago in 68 years (1948). All those years ago she ventured to the Windy City with her husband for their honeymoon, and as you can probably guess they stayed at the Palmer House. Interestingly, Mackie would say that she heard about the previously discussed tradition from her son-in-law before 2016 but thought she’d never have an opportunity to make it back to Chicago. That all changed when her grandson started making plans to be married in the city. Around that time she found an old box full of items she had collected throughout the years. Sure enough, upon going through that box she found a receipt in there showing their four-night stay at the Palmer House in 1948. The total of that stay was a whopping $37. So, the story ends with Mackie sharing that she ended up returning to the Palmer House. What was her nightly rate to stay at this iconic hotel that usually charges hundreds of dollars per night? $9.25. Not too shabby.
You might be thinking to yourself after hearing that story, perhaps we should keep receipts just in case they come in handy 50 years from now. No. Probably not. Unless you have stayed at the Palmer House recently. Sadly, I think we probably threw away our receipt. Records are okay to keep until what you are keeping is of little to no value anymore. Throughout history, mankind has excelled at keeping records. From the ancient Egyptians and their hieroglyphics to the United States of America having archives in Washington D.C. that contain millions upon millions of documents recording just about anything and everything you can think of. Mankind may have its faults and weaknesses, but keeping records is not one of them.
Therein lies a critical issue though, as centuries have come and gone and as generations have left their marks on history, many records have been kept by people about other people doing them wrong. I’ve been told that there are South American tribes in remote places that hold grudges against other tribes because of ancient messages recorded by their ancestors. Yet the two tribes have not interacted with each other in decades. Several nations in our world have remained enemies with one another due to what happened a long time ago. Thus, forgiveness has been made because of records being kept.
Forgiveness, although talked about frequently by many inside and outside the church, is still a glaring problem in our world today. It’s not uncommon to hear someone say, “Oh, I’ll remember that.” Or they’ll say, “That will come back to bite you.” The new way of saying this is, “I am keeping receipts.” What people don’t realize when they say that is they are truly saying, “I’d rather be bitter than let you do what you’ve done and not let it affect me.” To take this a step further, keeping receipts leads you to believe you’re better than someone else, as the mindset is they’ve done all the wrong, while you’ve done all that is right.
Here is my plea to anyone reading this. Don’t keep receipts. Instead, throw away the receipts. Jesus said this in Matthew 6:14-15 (KJV), “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Throw away the receipts so you can live in the warmth and peace of God’s forgiveness! While the offering of His forgiveness is unconditional, the reception of His forgiveness is conditional on us forgiving others. Why? A heart full of bitterness, due to an unwillingness to forgive others, will have no room to receive the forgiveness of God. Throw away the receipts!
Andrew is the proud husband to Chelsea and father to Carson, Callahan, and Clayton. He currently serves as the senior pastor at River of Life in Henry, Illinois. He also serves as the Illinois District Youth Secretary. Before becoming a senior pastor, Andrew served as a youth pastor for 10 years. In total, he has over 15 years of experience in youth ministry. His educational background includes a B.A. in Psychology from Oakland University, an M.Ed. in School Counseling from Liberty University, and a MACM from Urshan Graduate School of Theology (currently in progress).