I read an article on line this morning listing the many complaints Costco employees made about their customers. Here are a few:
- Having an attitude about being asked to show their membership card at the front of the store
- Taking perishable items out of refrigerated cases and then leaving them on a shelf to spoil
- Leaving their cart in the check out line and going back to shop some more
- Leaving carts randomly around the parking lot instead of in the corral
- Acting in a rude or belittling way when speaking to employees
- Failing to control young children who race around the store endangering themselves and others
These are only a sampling of the behaviors people in retail jobs encounter every day.
It made me stop and think about all the people who serve us in different ways. Somebody delivers my newspaper every day; somebody stocks the grocery store shelves, rings up and bags my purchases; somebody checks out my books at the library, somebody services my car and somebody cuts my hair. My life would be much harder and less pleasant if many people weren’t willing to serve. Yes, they are being paid, but that does not excuse me from being courteous and appreciative of all that they do.
As Christians we should remember the verses below:
This month we’ve talked about how we’re all called to be servants — why not be servants to those who serve us? Kindness and respect can brighten another person’s day, and so today I challenge you think about and thank all those servants in your life!
“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Romans 12: 4-5
I think that the analogy of the body is the best way to describe our oneness with Christ and each other. I have to admit it’s a difficult concept to explain, and the writers of the New Testament were certainly inspired by God to present it in a way that we can understand and appreciate.
The parts of our body, each with a unique purpose, work together to comprise one living organism. When one part of the body stops working, or is injured, the whole body suffers. Some parts are less visible, some are not so pretty ( to illustrate this, my husband would cite the quote “God takes no delight in the legs of a man”) but all are needed. In the same way, the body of Christ needs all of us. We need preachers and teachers, cooks and cleaners, carpenters and prayer warriors. Not only that, but God has placed each of us in the perfect position to use our abilities:
“But as it is, God arranged the members of the body, each one of them, as he chose.” 1 Corinthians 3:18
Isn’t it amazing? God chose you and me for a particular purpose, in the time and place where we are needed most. You and I are called to our congregation, just as much as the Pastor!
Of course, the body will not work if each part goes its’ own way. Every body needs a way to be organized and perform well. In our physical body, if our brain is damaged all kinds of systems break down. The same is true of our spiritual body. Christ is the head, and must direct our actions and our goal.
“…and in him (Christ) all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church.” Colossians 1:17-18
You are called, gifted and positioned perfectly for peak performance. God and His people need you just where you are. Are you doing your part as a member of the body?
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
Kindness is defined as having a generous, sympathetic, considerate or warm nature. I think sympathetic is the key word. When we have sympathy for others we think more about them and less about ourselves. We try to understand their circumstances; we ‘walk in their shoes’.
Kindness also seems to be connected to forgiveness, in the verse above and others such as this one:
“Put on then, God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another, and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12-14
When we show kindness, we are extending to others the grace God already extended to us. In the book of Titus, the apostle Paul says:
“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle and show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish,disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us, but according to his own mercy by the washing and regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit …” Titus 3″1-5
Everybody wants kindness. None of us deserve it. Be kind and forgiving to others, as God has been kind to you.
“And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him (Jesus) to the test, saying ‘Teacher what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? How do you read it?’ And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” Luke 10:25-28
I know we already had a whole month on the topic of love (February), but I still felt that love should be the first virtue I chose to discuss as one of the fruits of the spirit. Why? Well, it does come first in the list in Galatians; and in the verses above Jesus affirms that love is the overriding principle in the Law. In the 13th Chapter of 1 Corinthians, the apostle, Paul, tells us that love is the greatest spiritual gift, and without it all our good deeds are meaningless. And in the third chapter of Colossians we find another listing of Christian virtues after which Paul tells us:
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:14
So it seems pretty obvious. If we truly love, the other qualities will fall naturally into place. When we genuinely love someone we are joyful and we can live peacefully with them. Patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness characterize loving relationships. Love leads us to control the impulses that cause hurt and misunderstanding.
So if you want to cultivate the fruit of the spirit love first. Err on the side of love. Let love inform your actions.
And remember God loves you and so do I!
Nothing is more wrenching than conflicts within the body of Christ, the church. The theme verse for the WMF (Women’s Missionary Federation) here at the AFLC conference is “knit together in love through Christ”( Colossians 2:2). It was also pointed out that the word “knit” is again used to describe how God created us in our mother’s womb(Psalm 139). We are meant to be joined with other believers in the same close relationship as the parts of our body come together to make a living organism. When parts of our physical body, or our church body are not working well together the result is pain. Listen to what Paul says about a situation like this in the book of Philippians:
“I entreat Eudoia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers …”
So, if we are to be knit together in love, and as Michele told us her recent post love=forgiveness, then the answer to this kind of situation is simple. We need to forgive. That brother or sister in Christ who has hurt us, criticized us, annoyed us, is part of us. Not only that, they’re part of Christ! We are in the same body. And what does the Bible say?
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church. (Ephesians 5:29)
and from Colossians 3:12-14:
Put on the, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
Who do you need to forgive today?