As I was going through a checkout lane, I asked the clerk: “So how’s your day going so far?” Admittedly, I expected the usual reply: “Oh, okay” or perhaps an “under the circumstances, fine.”
I really did not expect a blow-by-blow very detailed account of her life over the past 48 hours, but that is what she gave me; but, since I asked the question I needed to listen. Evidently, she had needed someone to listen for quite some time.
As I thought about my reaction to this lady, I reflected on the characteristically keen observations of Jesus. In Matthew 9, Jesus “saw the crowds, and He was moved with compassion for them because they were hurting and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
I wondered to myself: Was I moved with compassion or curiosity? Was my question one of genuine concern or complacent kindness?
Far too many times, I think I make the mistake of hurriedly looking through those who are in need, while Jesus lovingly looked deep down inside a person to see not just their wants by also their wanting.
• He saw the potential of Peter when everyone else thought he was a failure.
• He witnessed to a prostitute when others testified of her moral failures.
• He embraced sinners who were guilty of a myriad of sins, while others looked down on them with disdain.
When I left the store, I smiled at the young lady, and I said: I hope the rest of your day goes a little better. She returned the smile, and she looked as though her heavy load was a little lighter. Why? Simply because I did nothing more than take the time to just listen to her story.
I think Paul got it right when he said: “As we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith (Galatians 6:10).”