June 29, 2017
“Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.” Philippians 4:5 (NLT)
I usually cringe at generalizations … stereotypes. Lumping an entire group of people into a clichéd, confining box. Phrases like: “The ________ (nationality) are so ________ (bad character trait)” or “Those ________ (age group) all are so ________ (strange habit or behavior).”
However, every once in a while, there’s a compliment paid in the lumping.
Recently as I waited in line at a coffee house, a frail, elderly woman stood in front of me ordering a meal. She seemed distressed as she fumbled for her change, paid the worker, and then gathered up her bag of food and her drink. As she headed for the door, her large purse began swinging off of her shoulder, nearly knocking her, and all of her lunch, to the floor.
“Oh … how am I going to do this? Oh my … oh dear … I can’t …” she mumbled to herself, trying to shift her weight and her cargo, while pushing open the door at the same time.
Though I’d just finally reached the front of the line, God used today’s key verse to tap me on the heart and shift my momentary schedule.
“Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.” (Philippians 4:5)
I quickly hopped out of line.
“Here, let me get that for you,” I uttered as I held the door open and steadied her drink. “Would you like me to carry your food to your car?”
She stopped in her tracks, her bright blue eyes looking up at me with gratefulness. “Oh dear … you must have a grandmother living that you’re so kind to an old woman.”
“No ma’am, I don’t,” I answered. “I just love Jesus and He wants me to help you.”
Her face softened. She shook her head and decidedly declared: “Of course! You people have always been so helpful to me. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
You people. I’m pretty sure she meant, “You Christians.”
She didn’t align herself with Christians saying, “Thank you for helping a sister out.” No, she referred to me — and others who loved Jesus — as “you people.”
It made me wonder, How had other Christians helped her? Did they take her a meal? Rake her yard in the fall or shovel her driveway in the winter? Had they driven her to a doctor’s appointment?
It reminded me of the age-old truth: More is caught than taught. And it demonstrated to me that people are watching.
What do they see? Do they see us being considerate in all we do?
Sadly, I have been told the following:
By a waitress: “Christians are the worst tippers, especially after a Sunday supper out. Sometimes they leave no money at all.”
By an acquaintance in college: “You’re a Christian? Do you stand in front of the science building and scream Bible verses, telling people they’re going to hell for believing in evolution?”
By a sweet, misguided teenager from a tumultuous home, looking for love with her heart and announcing it with her body: “I tried going to church once. There was a sign on the front door that said, ‘All are welcome, but please dress appropriately.’ I didn’t know what appropriately meant, but I knew it wasn’t me. So I turned around and left.”
I know followers of Jesus — and I count myself in particular — don’t always portray to others the considerate and loving ways of Christ, as urged in today’s key verse. But we can do better. We need to remember that people are watching our behavior. If all they see are uncaring or condemning Christians, why, oh why, would they want to become one?
My prayer today is that we, as Christ-followers, will be lumped in the “you people” group my sweet coffee house friend saw. Considerate Christians who make God and His body of believers look good.
Sure, believers already know He is good. But others? They are watching. And lumping. What will they see in us?
Father, forgive me for the times I choose condemnation over love, rudeness over kindness, or desire to do nothing rather than do the right thing. Please prompt my heart and interrupt my momentary schedule so my actions may reflect who You are. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 31:26, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness.” (NKJV)
Philippians 2:3-4, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” (NLT)
Need a little inspiration to help you to practically and effectively love others, even strangers? Check out Karen Ehman’s book Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World.
For more on the topic of loving others, head to Karen’s Instagram where she is hosting a Scattering Kindness giveaway today with a basketful of goodies and a simple challenge.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Take time today to show consideration to a stranger. Help them with their groceries. Pay for their beverage. Let them go before you in line. If they comment on your behavior, tell them you are trying to love like Jesus loves.
© 2017 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.
Originally published Thursday, 29 June 2017.