I went to the local Walmart Supercenter today to pick up some medicine. As I was walking to find an available cashier, I found that the closest cash register that was open was the tobacco aisle. I thought that perhaps I should progress further to another line which was at the far end of the store. I would not want someone I minister to thinking that I smoke; I thought of my moral authority. Truth be told, there was a time span of a few years where I actually did smoke. I was very addicted and very much struggled with attempt after attempt to quit. Patches, prescriptions, gum and lozenges could not help me. When I put it in the hands of God, it was the Holy Spirit who helped me to overcome this addiction without any other aid. Nonetheless, I was feeling this great burden to take my medication to the tobacco aisle checkout.
There was a lady in front of me in line, and there was a gentleman checking out his purchases. He was giving the cashier a lot of grief. The cashier was talking with a pleasant voice and just oozing kindness. The man on the receiving end responded with bitterness and anger. Nothing was right for him. The cashier was getting flustered. After much time, the gentleman was finished and the cashier said, “Merry Christmas” as he was leaving. Then the lady that stood in line in front of me was ready to be served. This customer was demonstrating a lack of interest in the cashier. She just wanted to get out of the store by the look of things. The lady never responded to the cashier; she didn’t seem to want to be bothered. After a negative comment whispered under her breath, the lady began walking off. Once again, the cashier chimed, “Merry Christmas.“ Finally, it was my turn. I noted her name is Dottie. She was smiling despite being on the receiving end of so much grief. She provided excellent customer service. We spoke a little, and before I departed, the cashier, Dottie, was so grateful that she grabbed my hand and said, “Merry Christmas.”
Kindness and love can be shared in the simplest of ways. It is so sad that during the Christmas season, we see so many people out and about being miserable to others. We fight and bump our shopping carts simply trying to get the best deal on gifts to give to celebrate Christmas. We rush around driving and cut people off because we have a list of stores we want to visit to get the best bargains for these Christmas gifts. It seems as if we gather up as much stress as possible during the holiday season, rather than simply celebrate the birth of our Saviour. As we get closer to the big day, Christmas Day, I pray that you are able to feel the joy, the true joy of Christmas— and to spread that joy to others. There are too many bah-humbugs running about. Lets show people Jesus!
“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”
– 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 [NLT]
I recently moved and I’ve had to make a lot of phone calls to get some things organized. I noticed that while I was getting everything in order, that I hesitated to make the telephone calls. I looked to see if I could contact people online instead of making the actually physical phone calls. When I had to initiate my internet, I decided to active online. When I had difficulties, I even chatted with a representative because I felt it would be quicker and not eat up my cell phone minutes. At the same time, I really did not want to be on the telephone.
I didn’t find anything to be a problem until I noted that I had some things left to do, and everything on the list was what needed actual telephone calls. I had avoided making the calls. I was disconnected. This was something we spoke about in my media ministry course last semester. Our society has gotten so accustomed to communicating online and with technology that there is this great lack of people being connected with people. We even send a text message or chat on Facebook with people who are in the same room.
I am not against technology. I love technology. However, I think that we need to make sure that we do not spend so much time with technology that we try so hard to not connect with people in person and on the telephone. Sometimes people need to know that a real person cares about them, that another actual human being was thinking about them enough to take the time to call or to stop by for a visit.
I see a lot of images on Facebook depicting a cell phone screen shot showing God calling or sending a text message. The image is accompanied with the question on whether a person would answer and respond or not. I like that image because it makes a statement about society– that we are very much into technology– but that God meets us where we are at in life. At the same time, I believe He also would stop by and visit. He would sit with you and spend the afternoon together. He would call and send a text message. God wants to be connected to you. In John 15, Jesus speaks about the need for the disciples to stay connected to the vine. If the branches are unattached, they will not bear fruit.
Today you might be busy, overwhelmed with a list of things to do that surely will take you most of the day. You may not think you have the time to visit or call anyone. Perhaps you are tired and simply don’t feel like taking the initiative. I challenge you to make some time, visit or call someone you haven’t talked to in awhile, and simply enjoy their company. You may need the call more than they do. Also, spend time with God. Remember the branch cannot do much when unattached to the vine. He’s always available!
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” – Romans 12:9-10 [NLT]
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5 [NASB]