Lumping and Loving
Karen Ehman

"Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon." Philippians 4:5 (NLT)

I usually cringe at generalizations. You know, stereotypes; lumping an entire group of people into a confining box.

Like "The _______ (nationality) are so ________ (bad character trait)." or "Those ___________ (age group) all are so ____________ (strange habit or behavior)."

However, every once in a while, in the lumping, a compliment is paid.

I was at my coffee-house-office-away-from-home recently. As I waited in line for a drink, a frail, elderly woman stood in front of me ordering a meal. She seemed distressed, her face reflecting her frustration as she fumbled for her change, paid the worker, then gathered up her bag of food and picked up her drink. As she headed for the door, her large purse began swinging off of her shoulder, nearly knocking her, and all of her lunch, to the floor.

" am I going to do this. Oh my....oh dear...I can't....." she mumbled to herself, trying to shift her weight and her cargo while pushing open the door at the same time.

Though I'd just finally reached the front of the line, God used today's verse to tap me on the heart and shift my momentary schedule. I quickly hopped out of line. "Here. Let me get that for you." I uttered as I held the door open and steadied her drink. "Would you like me to carry your food to your car?"

This precious lady stopped dead in her tracks, her bright blue eyes looking up at me with gratefulness. "Oh dear...why you must still have a grandmother living that you love to be so kind to an old woman."

"No ma'am, I don't." I answered. "I just love Jesus and He wants me to help you."

Her face swiftly softened. She then shook her head slightly and decidedly declared. "Oh my...Of course! You people have always been so helpful to me. I don't know what I'd do without you."

You people.

She meant, "You Christians."

She didn't align herself with the group saying, "Oh thank you for helping a sister out." No. She referred to me--and others who loved Jesus--as "you people."

It made me wonder, how had other Christians helped her in the past? Did they take her a meal? Rake her yard in the fall or shovel her driveway in the winter? Had they given her a ride to a doctor's appointment?

It drove home again for me the age old truth: more is caught than taught. And it demonstrated to me that people are watching.

And lumping.

What do they see? Do they see us being considerate in all we do? Sadly, I have been told all of the following:

By a waitress: "Christians are the worst tippers in the world; especially after a big Sunday supper out. Sometimes they leave no money at all."

By an acquaintance in college: "You're a Christian? So do you stand in front of the science building and scream Bible verses at people telling them they are all going to hell for believing in evolution? I don't believe in evolution. I am just trying to go to class."

By a sweet, misguided teenager from a broken and violent home, looking for love with her heart and announcing it with her body: "Oh, I tried going to church once. There was a sign on the front door that said 'All are welcome but please dress appropriately.' I didn't know what appropriately meant, but I knew it wasn't me. So I turned around and left."

If people watching see uncaring or harshly condemning Christians, why would they want to become one?

My prayer today is that you and I, as true Christ-followers, will be lumped in the "you people" group my sweet coffee house friend saw.

Considerate Christians. They make God and His body of believers look good. Sure, believers already know He is good. But others? They are watching. And lumping. What do they see in you?

Dear Lord, forgive me for the times I choose condemnation over love; rudeness over kindness; or decide to do nothing rather than do the right thing. Please prompt my heart and interrupt my momentary schedule so my actions accurately reflect who You are. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Karen’s blog today for a chance to win a signed copy of her book A Life That Says Welcome and two Target gift card bundles (complete with dark chocolate); one for you and one to give to a stranger.

Making It Real: Whose Faith is it Anyway? by T. Suzanne Eller

Do You Know Him?

She Cooks offers practical tips to be “You People!”

Saving Grace (E-Book) by LeAnn Rice

Application Steps:
Make a choice today to perform a simple, kind deed for a complete stranger. When they thank you, give God the credit.

Can you recall ways Christians have been lumped together? What was said? Was there truth to it?

What characteristics does the Bible say believers should be known for? List as many as you can.

Power Verse:
Proverbs 31:26, "She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness." (NKJV)

© 2010 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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Blogger Sheri said...

Awesome word this morning! My parents taught me this long ago and I've had it reinforced through my Emmaus walk and as a member of CMA (Christian Motorcyclists Assoc). People "Caught" our relationship with our Lord more than we can Talk to them about Him. We need these reminders to walk the walk not just talk the talk. God's blessings to you and yours this holiday weekend and may God continue to shine through each of us!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just happened to run across this article on Face Book, Gee how God does work? I do see how the Lord has used my illness as a key to his love. I am not angry or showing any signs of distress other than wanting to get home from the hospital. I am at peace and doing what is necessary to get well. Many of my "christain" family have stopped by to help in my recovery leaving treats, food, and words of encouragement. My neighbors see this and I do believe God is using this in a mighty way!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

always the words my heart & mind need to hear. thank you for blessing so many lives!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for reminding me that we need to treat others with kindness. As I drive down the road to my work each day I see a lady that is walking with groceries and have always wanted to give her a ride. I entertain the thought that she might think I am stopping for another reason and I just go on. Who knows what might happen if I stop and offer her a ride. Next time if I am not late for work I will stop and see if she needs a ride. Thanks for the devotion.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for reminding me that we need to treat others with kindness. As I drive down the road to my work each day I see a lady that is walking with groceries and have always wanted to give her a ride. I entertain the thought that she might think I am stopping for another reason and I just go on. Who knows what might happen if I stop and offer her a ride. Next time if I am not late for work I will stop and see if she needs a ride. Thanks for the devotion.

Blogger Amy said...

This was sooo encouraging to read today and a good reminder for me to remember that others are watching- they need God's love from us because they are desperately LOOKING for it. I was raised in church, and have 2 siblings who are no longer interested in God or church and it reminded me of the teenage girl in your devotional. Feeling judged by Christians shouldn't be part of the message we get across- if we can show them we are also imperpect but God can redeem us and walk us through those imperfections as well, this might help us show his love and grace more to them. I'm praying that God will help me and other believers show the people around us, whether family or strangers we meet, His love through our simple actions. :)
Thanks for today's devotional!

Anonymous Vivian said...

Thank you for the reminder for me to always be a testimony wherever I am. Even though I am very shy and not as bold of a witness than I should be, God has given me the boldness to look for ways to help strangers. I have given money to weary-eyed mothers in thrift stores and to young military members on base (my husband is in the service) who never saw me before or probably never will again. Just an encouraging word that "Jesus loves you" and a smile and little blessing of a $20 bill can change the attitude of a stranger. I cannot preach from the housetops, but I can pray and be a small example of what others want Christians to be portrayed as to the world. Thanks for the devotion today.

Great post!!

I wish that more Christians could understand this truth.

Our interaction with someone may be the only encounter they ever have with a "Christian". If we are not showing Christ’s love - but condemnation - they will not have any incentive to open their heart or mind to Christianity, later...

Christ walked with every kind of person while He was on this earth - and the only ones He condemned were those who felt they were superior to others - more "righteous"...

A friend recently told me that she'd switched to Wicca because it was the only religion that would accept her as she is. I told her that i knew someone else who would. At first, she thought i was talking about myself.

I told her Jesus would. She said, "But i thought..."

I told her that He loves her [and all of us] just the way we are... but He loves us too much to leave us that way.

If we give Him the opportunity, He will change us into the best "us" we could possibly be. :)

Anonymous Charlotte said...

What a fabulous devotion this morning! I can't wait to see how God will use this in my life today and in the days to come. Thanks for reminding me that everything I do is a reflection of my Lord and Savior.

Anonymous Eve said...

Yes, this is a wonderful reminder to step beyond our own circumstances and reach out to others as God would have us do. My elderly mother is not able to get out and go places as she used to do. She tells me of the lovely group from our neighborhood church that comes by the house to see her, bring food, and even to bring a group of children to sing for her and my Dad! How uplifting for them that day. I pray with my children for us to show the love to each other than Jesus shows to us, and not let my selfishness hold us back! Thanks!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to be like this! God, give us eyes to see, ears that hear, and hearts that respond to your promptings!! Amen! Thanks you!

Anonymous Beth said...

What a sobering thought! Do people see Jesus working through me. At my school, we are looking for the "fruit of the Spirit" in the lives of the students. Do the students see those fruit in me?

Anonymous Gina said...

WOW! I am doing a book study "How to be Human" This week is "Judging Others". Your topic "Lumping and Loving" mentioned some of the same things that I read out in our lesson!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an amazing reminder this morning. After reading and praying, I knew I needed to take down some unkind words I had posted on Facebook just last night. The Holy Spirit is so faithful to tap us on the shoulder, and I am so grateful to others that allow themselves to be used by Him! Thank you.

Blogger Pgaloha said...

Karen, Just this morning, while preparing some cookie bars and Macaroni Sald to take to a picnic with friends over the weekend, my "schedule" was interrupted by a young man (29) who fell off of his bike in front of my house. When I heard his calls for help, I ran out to him and called 911, all the while thinking..."Ok, Lord, what do I do now?" After giving the dispatcher all of the information needed, I sat beside this young man, writhing in pain, and prayed aloud, asking for Gods healing touch to be upon them and whith those coming to his aid. The ambulance did arrive, and transported him to the hospital, but only after this did I start to wonder if my prayer had any affect on him. I KNOW it did becaise GOD is good...all of the time, and I thanked Him for guiding me and allowing me to be there in that spot today to be used by Him. My prayer now is that this young man will be touched enough to remember, and it will be a life changing moment in many ways.

Anonymous Connie said...

I am usualyl on the "judging" end .... lumping other people based on how I see them. How that must grieve God's heart! He made each of us and loves us one and all. Jesus himself modeled love, acceptance, grace and forgiveness..... and yet it is a challenge for me to follow His example! You are right, too, that we must flip the coin around and remember how others see us and that we the hands and feet of Christ ... "the only Jesus some ever see." What a priveledge to be one of "those people" who love and serve and reflect just a little of Christ to our dark, hurting world! Thanks for the reminder and challenge!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this. What a great opportunity to shine. God is GOOD!
May we all be lumped in a positive way.

Blogger Janie said...

What a well-timed devotion this is for me. I feel that we as Christians can be judgmental of others rather than kind and compassionate. Our whole goal is to become more like Jesus through our daily walk with him and to show others his love through our words and our actions. If we are too busy tearing them down- we will have no time left to lift them up. I might not know how a person got to where they are, but I do know that I can make the choice to show them the love of Jesus today!

Anonymous Denise said...

Thanks for reminding us of how actions speak louder than words and how when we acknowledge our God that it can bring others to know Him.
This has been a topic of discussion with our teenagers on more than one occasion. May we be selfless enough to consider others before ourselves. God Bless You !

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