Two elderly couples are sitting at two different tables at the same restaurant. Both couples are professing Christians who are involved in their respective local Churches. Both frequent this restaurant quite often.
One couple (the ones I happen to be sitting with) is jovial: laughing with the waitstaff, smiling, and sharing concerns about the Church while expressing their desire to remain faithful there. The other–seated a table away– not so jovial. I don’t know the exact nature of their conversation, but I do know the response the waitress gives: “I am sorry… for that I do apologize.” This apology, as marked by the look on her face, was not for something she had done but for something they had complained about. Something meaningless and unimportant; it is just food, after all.
And how do I know them to be believers? As they leave they excitedly greet our dinner companions and it’s explained that this couple was there when our host came to Christ.
I wish this was an anomaly, but it isn’t. I have been in multiple situations where I have witnessed professing believers (once right after an Easter morning service) enter the community and trash Christ’s name through their attitudes–meanwhile wearing their “Church” clothes.
Our gracious host
Christmas is coming. This is a time where the Church remembers in a special way that Christ didn’t count equality with God something to be grasped but made himself nothing and became a man for the sake of dying a humble yet terrible death on our behalf. We sometimes miss the part about humility–and us having the same mind.
Our host that night didn’t. True, our waitress was also slightly emotional, but for a different reason; our host handed her this letter to the editor he had once written:
I am writing relative to a hard-working group of people in our society today. My wife and I enjoy dining out frequently, and we notice the hard-working waiters and waitresses who serve the public in our local restaurants. We watch them try to be pleasant, courteous and efficient as they work. We see them try to give service as they serve food, clear tables, carry heavy trays and deal with unhappy costumers. They work hard for the minimum wage (which is lower than the state minimum). We also feel there are many people who do not leave the proper gratuity (at least 15 percent) that is expected today.
We know there are days and weeks set aside to honor nurses, teachers, secretaries and other service people. This is a fine thing to do. They deserve it. We also think of those faithful wait-people who deserve to be honored for a job well done.
Passing on humility
Christ came to call us to be part of His Kingdom through His death and resurrection. What does that resurrection do for us? Well, for starters, it affects our attitudes so that we are no longer walking in the ways of the flesh but in the Spirit with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5.22-23). But these attitudes are worthless if left unexpressed. Our responses must be kind and good, gentle and loving, and spoken with patience and self-control. If they are not, is Christ glorified? If we recognize our failures, is He glorified in our apologies to the victims of our words? Many of us who are in Christ would do well to check our hearts and invite more of the Spirit’s control whenever we interact with unbelievers.
Maybe then we can do as this gentleman did–recognize the good that others are doing and respond with love and admiration to them.