Tuesday, May 02, 2006

1 Peter 4:9-10

Sunday night, at the high school service, we learned more about the Christians in Corinth. They were prideful in their Christianity, even to the point of boasting about whom baptized them into the faith. They argued among themselves who was better, and other petty differences like those.

The Apostle Paul addressed them in this. He reminded them that they were ALL baptized in the name of Christ, so the person who did the baptizing did not matter. He also addressed them about filing lawsuits against one another in secular courts when they were wronged.

You see, when one Christian did wrong to another Christian, the first would sue using the legal system. And they did this in the full view of non-believers! Paul asked them, when wronged, to give up their right to get revenge. He asked them, for the sake of the non-believers, to give up their right to seek redress. He didn’t ask them to be a doormat, he just asked them to learn to forgive.

These people had some things to learn, didn’t they? Aren’t you glad we have these Scriptures? We learn so much from them, and we don’t have to go down the road traveled like these stiff-necked people we read about in the Bible.

So, after church Sunday night, we went to pick up some prescriptions at a local pharmacy. Saturday night, my wife had gone to pick them up, but one of them was not ready. Something had happened about how they had input it into the system (Computers! You have to love them!) Well, we had several, some for me, and one for one of my daughters, and hers was not ready.

It was inconvenient, and a bit annoying, because we have had problems in the past 3-4 months with errors. Becky thought about picking up the ones that were ready, but she would have to come back anyway. And the techs assured her that if she came back later, she could just pick them all up at once. Well, I wasn’t in dire need of mine, so we just left them, and decided to pick them up Sunday night after service.

So, here we are, Sunday night. We had given them a LOT of extra time to get all our prescriptions complete. We drove up to the window, and then…BAM! You know what happened, don’t you?

The one that wasn’t ready Saturday night was now ready. The three other prescriptions that were mine were now NOWHERE TO BE FOUND! You got it, they were GONE! VANISHED! OUT OF HERE!

Now, remember what I said earlier about learning how to let it go, and not be angry? You also remember how I told you that we had been having problems before that, with them messing up on our orders? Yeah, you guessed it, we were completely Christian. We gave up our right to allow God to shine through us, and rushed headlong into our anger. We embraced our anger, gave it life, and birthed it out to the world.

The woman at the window who was patiently listening to us rant about how incompetent they were, had no reason to bear our anger. She wasn’t personally responsible, and even if she was, it wasn’t a life or death situation. But we were angry, and we wanted someone to know. We were going to change our store, and take our business elsewhere. We just wanted our refills and then we would be on our way. We demanded the one that was ready. Then, we instructed her to refill the others that were supposed to be ready, and we would be back by that evening to pick them up.

There, we told them. We showed that store who was the boss. We are the customers, and we are ALWAYS right.

“Oh boy, they really made you angry, didn’t they?” the Voice asked.
“Yes they did, why the nerve of them…the incompetence…” I said.
“And she really deserved that, didn’t she?” the Voice said, gently.
“It was her fault!”
“They didn’t have our entire order ready AGAIN! They have been messing up left and…..”I stopped. I didn’t like the way this conversation was going.
“So you had a RIGHT to be angry?” He asked. (Let’s be honest, we ALL know Who the voice belonged to, don’t we?)
“Well, yeah, but, umm….”
“Hmm, okay. I was just making sure that I, Jesus, and the Spirit understood this correctly. Something occurred that you weren’t counting on. Instead of allowing Me to shine through you, you decided it was better to handle it on your own? That about sum it up?”
“….” (Those who know me know it’s sometimes REALLY hard to leave me speechless. God can do it in a heartbeat.)

I felt terrible. It made me almost sick to my stomach. Becky and I talked about what had happened, we were both amazed at how angry we had become over that situation. And what’s worse, we had taken it out on someone who had not one shred of fault. I got one picture in my mind that was unshakeable. What if I saw that woman in church one day?

1 Peter 4:9-10- “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

My wife and I knew what we had to do; we had to go back and apologize.

We went back, and walked into the store. The same woman was still there. She greeted us and went straight to get our order. When she brought it to the counter, we stopped her and apologized for our behavior. We told her that we had been having a lot of stress in the family, and we had problems before, and all of that. She told us it was alright. But we assured her it was NOT alright. We laid ourselves at her feet, and told her what we had done was NOT appropriate. And you know what else; we did it in full view of everyone who was there. No one who was at that counter or within earshot could have mistaken what we were doing.

Everyone gets stressed, and we all have things happen to us that test our mettle. The question is not, don’t I have the right to be angry and get what I deserve? The question is, are you close enough to Christ to allow the world to go its own way, knowing that you follow a higher path?

Can I stop being me long enough to allow myself to show God?

Be blessed in the Lord.

Bo J.

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