People are important. Every single person matters. Zechariah 7:9-10 tells us, “Treat one another justly. Love your neighbors. Be compassionate with each other. Don’t take advantage of widows, orphans, visitors, and the poor. Don’t plot and scheme against one another—that’s evil” (MSG). These are simple commands to remember and act upon; however, our society screams, “Me, me, me.”
If you are not so interested in people, then you have forgotten the two commandments of Jesus: Love God, love others. It’s plain and clear. There’s no way to misinterpret. It is not complex or mysterious. Zechariah states, “You’re interested in religion, I’m interested in people.” Sometimes we get that mixed up.
Religion is very different than relationship. God wants a relationship with us and He wants us to be in relationships with others too. God is a communal. It is all about community. It is all about people. If people—all people—are not your interests, I pray today you may start changing your interests. There are a whole lot of people out there—and each one needs Love.
“God-of-the-Angel-Armies gave me this Message for them, for all the people and for the priests: ‘When you held days of fasting every fifth and seventh month all these seventy years, were you doing it for me? And when you held feasts, was that for me? Hardly. You’re interested in religion, I’m interested in people.’” Zechariah 7:4-6 [MSG]
As I was reading Job, I could not help but stop on the phrase, but both are buried in the same dust” because I think it is something forgotten by so many people today. You do not have to look around much to see people who think that they are better than others. The world is full of people who think that they are better than other people. If we look at society, we will find that many people feel they deserve the world handed to them on a silver platter. The world owes them something. If the person gets something, it’s something they deserved or earned. If someone else gets something, they got lucky or were blessed.
Having the mindset that we deserve everything we get or a mindset that we are better than someone else, we fail to remember our true origin, Who is in control, nor the Truth of true prosperity and the true “good life.”
There will be people who are well off, people who have a lot of money and will die as a person who was considered successful and secure. There will also be people who are very poor, people who do not get to see the earthly “good life” and seem to suffer from one thing to the next. There are two important items to remember with this passage. Everyone dies. Not everyone will understand the true Good Life—the true meaning of prosperity. Today, consider how we are all the same and the true meaning of prosperity. No one is better than the other—and no one is saved from the grave except through the blood of Christ.
“One person dies in prosperity, completely comfortable and secure, the picture of good health, vigorous and fit. Another person dies in bitter poverty, never having tasted the good life. But both are buried in the same dust, both eaten by the same maggots.” – Job 21:23-26 [NLT]
Everyone is different and this can cause many disagreements. We all have varying ideas, a different way of doing things, different beliefs, etc. Disputes pop up and when they do, it is important to not let them create an atmosphere of discord and cause us to react in poor ways. We can learn a lot from how Abraham handled a dispute with Lot.
In Genesis 13, Abraham and Lot’s herders began to fight because the land couldn’t support all of the people, the herds, and the possessions. God had blessed Abraham well, but it ended up resulting in tight living quarters. Abraham took initiative when it came to resolving the dispute with Lot. He did not want any of the fighting to cause problems between them. He gave Lot first choice of land so they could part ways and spread out. In making this offer, Lot could choose the best of the land, meaning that Abraham would suffer some loss.
Sometimes we need to take initiative when it comes to resolving disputes. It may mean that we won’t have the better choice, but it does having promising results. Fighting is not good and it usually results in bringing both parties downward. Acting with humility has great rewards. If you are in the middle of a dispute or argument right now, perhaps today is a good day to act with humility.
“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” – Proverbs 15:1 [NLT]
“Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all.” – Proverbs 22:2 [NIV]
The Lord is Maker of us all. Whether we are rich or poor, tall or short… whatever nationality, religious affiliation, etc., the Lord is Maker of us all. The Bible says that we are all made in the image of God. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (NIV). We are all made in the image of God.
Today do not look at the differences that separate us but this truth that too often gets overlooked. When someone is not doing something like you would do it, remember that they are made in the image of God. When someone pulls their car out in front of you, remember that they are made in the image of God. When someone disrespects you, hurts you, or tests your patience, remember that they are made in the image of God. When you see people very different from you, remember that they are made in the image of God.
We are all faulty image bearers. We all have need for a Savior. Let us be encouragers and be wise with our words. Let us speak God’s truth into the lives of one another. Encourage one another. The Lord is Maker of us all.
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]