Encouragement for Today - Mar. 20, 2012


Karen Ehman

March 20, 2012

Lumping and Loving
Karen Ehman

"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 confining box.

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 a compliment is 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. 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.

And lumping.

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 teenager: "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."

If people are watching and all they see are uncaring or condemning Christians, 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 you?

Dear Lord, forgive me for the times I choose condemnation over love; rudeness over kindness; or decide to do nothing rather than do the right thing. Please prompt my heart and interrupt my momentary schedule so my actions accurately reflect who You are. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Karen's blog and enter to win a copy of her book, A Life That Says Welcome and find out about her 15-day online study of living a life that says "welcome."

A Life That Says Welcome by Karen Ehman

Making It Real: Whose Faith is it Anyway? by T. Suzanne Eller

Reflect and Respond:
Make a choice today to perform a simple, kind deed for a complete stranger. When they thank you, give God the credit.

Can you recall ways Christians have been lumped together? What was said? Was there truth to it?

What characteristics does the Bible say believers should be known for? List as many as you can.

Power Verse:
Proverbs 31:26, "She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness." (NKJV)

© 2012 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105

Originally published Tuesday, 20 March 2012.