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Two Kinds of People

I can’t help staring at the wadded-up-mess of gum. We’re at 30K feet and the airplane’s cabin feels far too small and constricting. The beautiful redhead seated in front of me has reclined her seat and is almost in my lap. She is probably unaware that the sticky pink wad is only inches from her gorgeous hair. The gum is expertly affixed to the back of the leather portion of the headrest that can wrap around a traveler’s weary head. 

I keep watching the gum and thinking . . . thinking about who would pull back the head rest and stick their used gum there. What kind of person would leave their gum for someone else to deal with? Or leave it to possibly get stuck in the next traveler’s hair? Did the person put it there for safe-keeping thinking maybe when the plane started its descent they’d pop it back in their mouth? Did the gum-chewing-passenger forget that the flight attendants come through the cabin regularly with trash containers welcoming any contribution at all?

Who leaves this kind of personal baggage behind for others to deal with?

What kind of person? 

My husband says there are two kinds of people in the world. People who leave their grocery carts on the parking lot and those who put them in a cart receptacle. You see it every day. You’re looking for a parking spot, circling, circling, circling, you see several spots available, but grocery carts litter the area. People leave the cart parked conveniently in the way. Convenient for them. They’ve unloaded their groceries and left the cart in place beside their parking spot. As they pull away, I wonder who they think will put their cart back where it belongs.

Who leaves their cart for someone else to deal with?

What kind of person?

Basically we have two kinds of people. Theologically, we have those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ—restored to a spiritual condition of “right standing” with God, and we have those who are still in need of redemption; those who are spiritually dead in their sins and in need of new life. But I’m not talking about those two types of people.

I’m talking about the gum-and-grocery-cart-leavers, those who leave the cart where it stands when they finish unloading it and those who put it away—those two groups. 

Sadly, believers should never be found in the gum-and-grocery-cart-leavers category, but they are. It’s the same category where you’ll find the “good Christians” who eat an expensive meal, pray loudly, but tip sparingly (or worse yet, the only tip they leave is a gospel tract disguised as money). I’m speaking from experience here, working as a waitress through much of my high-school and college years.

What are these two categories of people?

There are two kinds of people, the self-centered and the others-centered. 

Of all people, those who are known as Christ-followers should also be known by their concern for the practical needs of others. We should be the first to lend a hand to those in need and to lead the way in mercy ministries. We should have the reputation of being considerate and thoughtful. We should set the standard of love that will cause the world to sit back and be amazed by our God! But instead, the world is often laughing at us, because our love is a self-focused love rather than others-focused.

Why is that?

Why are we, those who’ve received the greatest demonstration of grace, often so unwilling to display grace? Why are we far too often self-focused rather than others-focused? Why would any of us who’ve been rescued from a well-deserved eternal punishment ever turn inward or self-focused?

Shouldn’t the very fact that we’re living in grace push our heart and mind outward toward others? 

Have we forgotten what we’ve been given?

My prayer is that every believer will live worthy of the grace he or she has been shown—starting with me. I pray that we will live to serve, give, show mercy, and consider others before ourselves. I pray that we will become known as those who rush toward the needy and helpless, and yes, known as those who put away our own carts as well as offer to help the elderly with theirs.

Why does putting our grocery carts away matter?

Because there are two kinds of people who are watching us. Those who’ve received God’s grace for salvation, and those who are in desperate need of a rescue mission. And one group especially needs to see the witness of grace and the echo of redemption at work.

Which group are you in today?