We’re so quick to throw “Christian” words around in the confines of our church doors. Mercy, forgiveness, love, grace. We smile and nod that there should be more of those qualities in the world. We also know that we should help spread them around. When you’re on the receiving end of mercy, forgiveness, love, and grace, it’s a precious thing.
I’ve been thinking of mercy because of the blatant lack of it in the world. We are quick to pity and have compassion for those who deserve it, but what about those people who don’t, or the ones who inconvenience us?
I went out to eat one time with some professing Christians. On a Sunday, of course, which brings out all sorts of bad behavior from “Jesus people.” I wanted to “crawl under a tile,” as my husband likes to put it, at our friends’ behavior. Nothing seemed to please them. They complained about everything and I’m sure the poor waitress was either angry or hurt by the time she was finished serving us. I’m not saying we should sit there and eat what we didn’t order, or not say anything if an order is messed up. Lots of times–no, most of the time–a lot of how people react depends on our attitude (remember mercy, forgiveness, love, and grace above?).
Think about the waitress. Say she messes up your order. Y’all, she’s probably not intentionally trying to ruin your day. Did you think for one moment that maybe her feet are killing her, or maybe her babysitter quit. Maybe she wishes she went to college, or maybe she’s trying to finish college, and this is just a job until she finishes? Maybe she thinks you look self-righteous in your Sunday best. Christians are characteristically among the worst tippers to servers.
We ought to honor servants. But while we trip over ourselves and make sure that we have a copy of our Sunday bulletin to get our 15% discount at the restaurant, we also leave our salvation in the car, along with those words we like to toss around–mercy, forgiveness, love, and grace. We leave that grace and mercy so freely given to us, and snub our server and express our impatience with someone’s who’s just doing her job. Maybe our waitress did a lousy job. But does that excuse our lack of grace? Mercy says, “I know you’re having a tough day. Here’s a good tip. Be blessed.”
Love is all about inconvenience. It is so, so easy to inconvenience ourselves for those we have warm fuzzies toward. What about someone who passes through your life and after an hour or so, you won’t see them again? Are we showing Jesus, even for an hour? Maybe if enough Christians tipped better and acted more merciful when the service is less than stellar, someone’s life could be changed. Big changes happen in small steps. And those words aren’t just mere words.
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Lynette Sowell writes fiction for the inspirational market, from contemporary romance to mysteries. She’s always looking for the perfect recipe for a story–or a great dish–and is always up for a Texas road trip.