31 “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Mark 10:31 (NKJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”
Sometimes we congratulate ourselves for the wrong things. Very often we have a warm feeling in our hearts when we perform loving acts for our friends and loved ones. But the Gospels make clear that this is really no great virtue.
Jesus said, “”But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” (Luke 6:32). The Lord says that the greater virtue is in loving our enemies, and also in showing kindness to those who are often forgotten.
Both of my sons have worked as “bag boys” at our local grocery store. To tell you the truth, I never gave much thought to the plight of “the baggers” until my sons began coming home with stories of their daily adventures. They tell me that some customers speak to them roughly, without common courtesy. (And they have commented that sometimes the rudest treatment that they get is on the Lord’s Day, from people who are still wearing their best clothes after attending Sunday worship. Ouch.)
On the other hand, the Cash brothers tell me that many customers treat them with much cheerfulness and kindness. And this pleasant treatment is greatly appreciated. Some kind souls even give “the baggers” a small monetary tip. While the boys say that this is not expected (or necessary), the tips are greatly appreciated. Seth has used his tips to buy cold drinks to keep himself hydrated in the heat of the Mississippi summer. Spencer adds up his tips to purchase what he eats on his lunch break. The fare that he dines on is determined by the tips he is given. He tells me that a trip to the Chinese buffet (with water to drink) costs $6.41, but two bucks will buy you two chicken thighs, potato logs, a buttered roll (and a red Faygo to drink) at the Piggly Wiggly deli.
Many years ago I read a letter to “Ann Landers” that I have never forgotten. It was written by a man who had been raised by his widowed mother who worked as a waitress. He wrote how thankful he and his family were for the tips that people left in the restaurant. On the days that the customers had been generous, the family might have meat for supper or something special for dessert, like ice cream. The family was dependent upon the tips and deeply appreciated them.
I always try to remember that when I finish eating a meal in a restaurant—especially if it happens to be Christmas Day. Because of services at the church and whatnot, our family often is traveling several hours to visit family on Christmas Day. It is our tradition to eat at “Waffle House”, because it is one of the few eating establishments open on December 25th. Our family has made it a tradition to set aside money in the holiday budget to give the “Waffle House” waitress a generous tip. She deserves a present—because she has left her family on Christmas to cook breakfast for ours.
Dear mama, there will be people who will go unnoticed this Christmas. Ask God to help you find the ones who will be forgotten—and then do something for them that will bring the light of the Lord to them.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 25 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days he works at a public school.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 19) and Seth (age 16) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where Seth has recently found alternate employment as a “milker” at a dairyfarm—with customers who rarely “talk back”. 🙂 ) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.