I was in Wal-Mart one Saturday. Now, let me be completely clear about something–I hate Wal-Mart. There are so many reasons, and I’m not even going to get into them, but I absolutely have to be on a very specific mission if I’m going to subject myself to the torture that is Wal-Mart.
I had a mission this day.
My ipad is so old it no longer updates, and I’m a cheapskate and just wanted to get a cheap tablet I could use to read ebooks on. I had a budget, and Wal-Mart had what I needed.
I went to the electronics, found what I needed, and was helped by this lovely employee. As she was getting ready to open the case for me, she started whispering and told me about this other brand of tablet that was supposed to be better and was on clearance because it was left over from Black Friday.
Always looking for a deal, I told her that was perfect! I’d take it.
We got to the register, and she rang up the tablet. It didn’t show the clearance price on her screen. She looked confused, mumbled something about how it was typical, and then called her manager. I waited a few minutes, and she kept apologizing. Eventually, she said she had no idea how long it was going to take her manager or if the manager would change the price.
I thanked her for trying and told her it wasn’t a big deal and that I would just take the other one. After all, that was the reason I went there in the first place and what I was planning to spend.
She looked at me with this stunned look on her face and kept thanking me over and over again.
I didn’t understand it at first. I told her I appreciated that she was looking out and trying to save me money and that I absolutely understood this was in no way her fault. She was just trying to help me.
She got teary-eyed.
She looked me right in the eye and told me she wished all her customers were that understanding. I apologized to her for the state of the world, paid for my tablet, and encouraged her to have a great afternoon.
What has happened to simple kindness?
Who’s my Neighbor?
As I stood there dumbfounded by this conversation with this poor woman who was just trying to serve her customers, I kept thinking about what a sad state our society is in right now. Certain middle-aged women didn’t get the nickname “Karen” for no reason. No, they got the nickname for their inability to love their neighbors and for their downright disgraceful treatment of people who are absolutely their neighbors.
It’s not just the “Karens” of the world either.
I wish it were simply non Jesus-loving individuals displaying this poor behavior, but, sadly, I don’t feel like it is. I’ve sat in too many restaurants on too many Sundays and watched people pray before their meals in their dress clothes, talk about their church services, and then treat their wait staff like trash.
It just makes me think of Jesus’s conversation with the Religious Scholar in Luke 10:
Just then a religious scholar stood before Jesus in order to test his doctrines. He posed this question: “Teacher, what requirement must I fulfill if I want to live forever in heaven?” Jesus replied, “What do you read in the Law? How do you understand it?” The religious scholar answered, “It states, ‘You must love the Lord God with all your heart, all your passion, all your energy, and your every thought. And you must love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” Jesus said, “That is correct. Now go and do exactly that and you will live.” Wanting to justify himself, he questioned Jesus further, saying, “What do you mean by ‘my neighbor’?”Luke 10:25-37 (TPT)
I’ve known so many people who work in the service industry, and they have all talked about hating working Sundays and serving the church crowd because of how rude they are and how they tip horribly.
Every time I go anywhere on Sundays, I try to be extra nice to those in the service industry and tip a little extra in an attempt to make up for their other horrible experiences and set a better tone for the “church crowd.”
Sitting in those restaurants and seeing this treatment makes me feel like I’m witnessing this Phariseeical behavior firsthand–the behavior literally screams “but, really Jesus, who is my neighbor?”
Let me be clear here–In no way do I believe all Christians are acting this way, or every middle-aged woman is a “Karen.” Unfortunately, it only takes a few bad apples to spoil it for the whole bunch.
Everyone. Everyone is my Neighbor.
Jesus answers the Pharisee’s question with a parable, and it’s probably a parable we know all too well.
Jesus replied, “There was once a Jewish man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho when bandits robbed him along the way. They beat him severely, stripped him naked, and left him half dead.
“Soon, a Jewish priest walking down the same road came upon the wounded man. Seeing him from a distance, the priest crossed to the other side of the road and walked right past him, not turning to help him one bit.
“Later, a religious man, a Levite, came walking down the same road and likewise crossed to the other side to pass by the wounded man without stopping to help him.
“Finally, another man, a Samaritan, came upon the bleeding man and was moved with tender compassion for him. He stooped down and gave him first aid, pouring olive oil on his wounds, disinfecting them with wine, and bandaging them to stop the bleeding. Lifting him up, he placed him on his own donkey and brought him to an inn. Then he took him from his donkey and carried him to a room for the night. The next morning he took his own money from his wallet and gave it to the innkeeper with these words: ‘Take care of him until I come back from my journey. If it costs more than this, I will repay you when I return.’
So, now, tell me, which one of the three men who saw the wounded man proved to be the true neighbor?”
The religious scholar responded, “The one who demonstrated kindness and mercy.” Jesus said, “Go and do the same as he.”Luke 10:25-37 TPT
This is one of those parables that is so familiar to me that I tend to overlook the severity of its meaning.
Jews hated Samaritans.
In fact, Jews hated Samaritans so much that they would walk miles out of their way to avoid the entire town of Samaria.
Miles and miles out of their way.
Simply to avoid these people.
Then, to think about the fact that this was a Jewish man who was beaten within inches of his life and left to die by both a Jewish Priest and a Levite but was rescued by a Samaritan–the very group of people Jews detested–Jesus was sending a strong message.
This isn’t just a message about helping our fellow man, about showing kindness to the service workers, the supermarket employees, our kids’ coaches, the youth volunteers, or the annoying kid next door.
This is a message about serving everyone, even those who despise us–sometimes selflessly and with all our resources.
Because they’re our neighbors too.
Loving Others is Showing Kindness and Mercy
We don’t live in a world that celebrates kindness and mercy.
I would go so far as to even say we live in a world that sees kindness and mercy as weaknesses.
God never meant for us to see kindness and mercy that way.
The parable of the Good Samaritan is extreme, to say the least. It isn’t going to be every day that we come across our enemy dying on the side of the road and we have to rescue him and pay for his medical bills. The extreme nature of this story should leave an unforgettable image in our heads to remind us what it means to love our neighbor in the way Jesus was instructing.
I think, though, that if we’re really honest, we can think of some less extreme ways to show kindness and mercy to our neighbors:
- Volunteer to take the annoying kid home from soccer practice
- Write a note to your kid’s teacher thanking them for what they do
- Sit with that one co-worker at lunch–you know the one
- When everyone else is complaining about the coach, change the subject
- Send Flowers
- Donate to a food pantry
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen
- Pass out hand warmers and blankets to the homeless
- Send Bibles to the prisons
- Encourage the needy guy in your small group
- Have lunch with your mom
- Tip a little extra
- Ask about your employee’s day and stick around to listen
- Don’t engage in the Facebook comments or, better still, show love instead of judgment and hate
The call to love our neighbors is only secondary to the call to love God.
Think about that for a minute.
Second–love people, all people, even people you disagree with or despise.
What a different world this would be if we put this command into practice.
Friends, I pray that you are challenged this week. I pray that you really see people this week and find ways to love them through your kindness and mercy.
- Who are the people you struggle to love?
- What is the biggest impediment keeping you from loving all people?
- What is one thing you want to do differently this week?
Free Lent Devo!
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Thank you for this much needed reminder to be kind…to EVERYONE.
I appreciated your story.
Found you from Showered In Grace FB. Thanks for this great reminder. Being kind is a simple way we Christians can minister to others in our world and it’s so easy we overlook it. Your ‘you know the one’ comment is convicting. ❤
Kristen, this is wonderful post and I love your story and Scriptures on this important needed ‘Love Better”🥰
Great post and a great reminder that everyone is my neighbor and kindness is not optional. I cringe when I witness people treating service employees poorly, and try to step in and diffuse a situation if I can. Several years ago I determined that my goal was to be the “best customer ever” so that no cashier or waiter would ever think “oh no, not her again” but would think “Oh I hope she chooses my lane/table” 🙂 I don’t do nearly as good a job as I could, but I think if we all had a mindset of wanting to bless the people we encounter, we could indeed “love better” Thanks for sharing this important message. Visiting from IMM#26