Most everyone has heard the term, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” The implication being if you judge something by the outside, you may be completely wrong about what is going on inside. For example, recently, a man thought to have been in a vegetative state – awake but not conscious of his surroundings – was actually misdiagnosed. For 23 years, he sat, able to process what was going on around him, yet unable to communicate due to being paralyzed.
When it comes to serving others, it is also very easy to “judge a book by its cover.” It’s easy to see the needs of many: homeless, hungry, poor, thirsty..etc. Those are major and we should focus plenty of attention on them.
But there are other needs that get overlooked…
The other day someone told me, “If someone is in a Starbucks, they don’t need you to buy them a coffee.” It’s easy to see their reasoning (the person is well off and doesn’t need the hand out) and I can understand there are more obvious people (see above) who could use help, but I don’t think we should so easily dismiss the ramifications of living love like that each day.
It’s easy to give money to a charity – it soothes the conscience. And we should – God cares for the poor and disadvantaged. BUT, His concern does not stop there. Think of who could be behind you in line, smiling and masking the pain:
- A mother of two recently abandoned by a cheating husband.
- A father whose paycheck doesn’t quite stretch as far as it used to and doesn’t know how to tell his family he lost his job.
- A son whose just been told his mom only has a year to live.
- A young couple who has just been told they miscarried.
- A successful coach who is losing his marriage and kids.
- A businessperson, well-dressed and refined, yet so alone and hiding the addictions he uses to cope.
- A student contemplating whether to end his or her life.
The list could go on. The needs may not be as apparent, but it is not for us to judge whether they are worthy to be served or not. We are called to lay down our lives for all: rich or poor, black or white or asian or whatever, country or urban, male or female.
There are times we may never fully know if we made any difference at all. Maybe we waste $5 by buying someone a coffee who just won the lottery. Oh well. I’m willing to take that chance because, more likely, that $5 is going to tell someone a much-needed “You are loved.”
Bottom line: We should never be so pretentious and believe it our job to pick who we serve. Christ loved. Period. We are to love. Period.
So what do you think?