September 3, 2010
Lumping and Loving
"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. You know, 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, in the lumping, a compliment is paid.
I was at my coffee-house-office-away-from-home recently. As I waited in line for a drink, a frail, elderly woman stood in front of me ordering a meal. She seemed distressed, her face reflecting her frustration as she fumbled for her change, paid the worker, then gathered up her bag of food and picked up 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 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?"
This precious lady stopped dead in her tracks, her bright blue eyes looking up at me with gratefulness. "Oh dear...why you must still have a grandmother living that you love to be 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 swiftly softened. She then shook her head slightly and decidedly declared. "Oh my...Of course! You people have always been so helpful to me. I don't know what I'd do without you."
She meant, "You Christians."
She didn't align herself with the group saying, "Oh 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 in the past? Did they take her a meal? Rake her yard in the fall or shovel her driveway in the winter? Had they given her a ride to a doctor's appointment?
It drove home again for me 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 all of the following:
By a waitress: "Christians are the worst tippers in the world; especially after a big Sunday supper out. Sometimes they leave no money at all."
By an acquaintance in college: "You're a Christian? So do you stand in front of the science building and scream Bible verses at people telling them they are all going to hell for believing in evolution? I don't believe in evolution. I am just trying to go to class."
By a sweet, misguided teenager from a broken and violent home, looking for love with her heart and announcing it with her body: "Oh, 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 watching see uncaring or harshly condemning Christians, why would they want to become one?
My prayer today is that you and I, as true Christ-followers, will be lumped in the "you people" group my sweet coffee house friend saw.
Considerate Christians. They make God and His body of believers look good. Sure, believers already know He is good. But others? They are watching. And lumping. What do 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.
Visit Karen's blog today for a chance to win a signed copy of her book A Life That Says Welcome and two Target gift card bundles (complete with dark chocolate); one for you and one to give to a stranger.
Making It Real: Whose Faith is it Anyway? by T. Suzanne Eller
She Cooks offers practical tips to be "You People!"
Saving Grace (E-Book) by LeAnn Rice
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.
Proverbs 31:26, "She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness." (NKJV)
© 2010 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
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