Jump Start # 2783
Genesis 31:2 “And Jacob saw the attitude of Laban, and behold, it was not friendly toward him as it had been before.”
I have been going to the Post Office a lot lately. In fact, I think I have been there just about every day for the past week. Lots of mailings of booklets and such things. There is a small town Post Office very close to where I live. They all know me by name, I guess because I’m in there so often. There are great to help me and most times I spend a bit of time chit-chatting with the employees. I was in there again, today. I had a stack of booklets to mail to one person, but no box to put them in. I knew the staff would help me out. Most times, there is hardly any customers in there. And, if I have a lot to mail, I usually let others go before me. Today, as I was putting things in the box to mail, another person was waiting. I let him go before me. He was quiet and didn’t say much. After he left, the postal employee who I know so well said to me, “He sure wasn’t very friendly.” There may have been many reasons. It was in the morning and some folks just aren’t talkative in the morning. He may have had a lot on his mind. Maybe he was sad. Don’t know.
But that made me think of our verse today and wonder what the postal employees say about me when I leave. More than that, our expression on our face, our friendliness, kindness and helpfulness is seen by others and that has much to do with what they see in us. It wasn’t too long ago that my siblings and I sat down with a funeral director to make arrangements for dad’s funeral. None of us knew this funeral director. We spent three hours with him. He knew all of our names by the time we left. He was so kind, helpful and caring. He sure made a difficult day a lot smoother for all of us.
Now, we must think about our interactions with others. The impressions that we leave has a lot to do with how well our light shines. I have heard the horror stories of brethren being demanding, lousy tippers, and pushy when it comes to restaurants and other places of business. We can get so caught up in ourselves that we forget that we are leaving impressions with others.
Laban, from our passage, had a change of spirit towards Jacob. He was not as friendly as before. Jacob caught that and it bothered him.
Here are some things to remember:
First, with visitors to our worship services. How many times have we heard the stories of people visiting places on vacation and no one welcomed them. An unfriendly church is not a growing church. Some places like to stay small and so any new faces are not wanted. Shame on us if that’s the way we act. Look around for those who may be visiting. Put yourself in their shoes. Don’t hit them up with 10,000 questions that are nosey. Be friendly. Invite. Encourage.
Second, with our interaction with those who are not Christians. That will include co-workers, doctors, dentists, car mechanics, and yes, the folks at the Post Office. You don’t have to share your stress and troubles with them. But what you can do is help carry their burdens. Politeness and manners is something that was once understand as normal. It’s not these days. Some people live as if every day was Black Friday—they are pushing their way to the front, bending the rules and just thinking about themselves. Some are rude, loud and demanding. Don’t be that way. It’s next to impossible to invite someone to services after you have chewed them out and been aggressive with them. Always keep in mind the big picture. So you have to wait another five minutes. Use that time to pray.
Third, we know how Jesus would conduct Himself. He was patient. He was kind. He was thoughtful. Remembering Jesus changes everything. Many didn’t like the things Jesus said, but no one could say that He was unkind or unfriendly. When you don’t like someone, you tend to avoid them. You don’t see that in the Gospels. Everyone flocked to be around Jesus, including His critics. They wouldn’t believe that He was the Messiah, yet, they were always in the audience, watching and listening.
Fourth, smiles sure make a difference. Have you smiled at all today? When you walk up to the counter to have some business conducted, do you bring a smile? Often on the other side of that counter are people who have had a long day. Tired. Stressed. Wanting to go home. Having to deal with impatient people is weary. And, along you come, bringing a smile. You talk softly and ask about their day. You sprinkle some sunshine on their day. Even when things are not right and there has been some mistakes, you deal with that in kindness and friendliness. Not only might you lift some heavy hearts that day, but you may just open a door for Jesus into their hearts. I have been to several countries. Even when I do not know the language, I have found that a smile is international. A child knows a smile. An elderly person sitting in a wheel chair recognizes a smile. The world would be a better place if we smiled more and talked less.
Friendly at work…friendly at worship…friendly at home…friendly in stores…friendly with all people. Some are very natural at this and it comes very easily for them to smile, be friendly and thoughtful. Others, it’s not the way they are wired. They are shy, quiet and keep to themselves. Yet, even in that a smile does wonders. Being polite, patient and kind is something that we all can do.
“That guy wasn’t very friendly.” Those words stayed with me today. I sure hope no one says that of me. I think Jesus would expect me to be better.