Every trash day, it’s obvious we’re living in a disposable world. So much of our garbage exists because someone found a way to make something quicker and easier so we have more time to do something else.
Those single-serving plastic cups for brewing coffee without measuring out the grounds or cleaning up the pot after the coffee’s ready. The plastic cooking trays that are part of a nukeable boxed dinner. Single use…then into the trash (or recycling bin if we try to live “green”). They did what we needed; then out they go.
But do we ever approach people with that attitude? If they no longer fulfill our own needs, are they “disposable,” too?
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 describes the advantage of having another to help.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (ESV)
All good and true statements, but there’s an underlying theme of how the other person will help me. It’s easy to appreciate another person when they might benefit me. But what about when they can’t?
Jesus called us to something more in Matthew 25:34-36:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’” (ESV)
Many of those Jesus described needed immediate material help, but the underlying principle goes further. Many of us don’t cross paths each day with folks in desperate physical need, but there are needs that aren’t physical where the way we respond can make a real difference in another person’s life.
Everyone needs to feel that those around them see them as someone of true value and not just as someone who’s only worthwhile as long as they’re useful.
Do we get caught up in the world’s standard, where some people are “worth more” because of their physical attractiveness or youth or ancestry? More important because of their wealth or prestigious job?
How do we treat people who have a lower “rank” than us in our place of work? Are we as likely to know the name and greet the janitor who gathers our trash everyday as we would the vice president if he or she dropped in at our work area?
Friendships will warm and cool as people move in and out of our daily lives. That’s a natural thing. But if we start climbing the ladder of success, do we deliberately drop former friends if they aren’t also making the climb fast enough and replace them with others who can help us climb faster?
If we’re highly educated, do we not want to “waste” our time with less intellectual people because they couldn’t possibly have anything worthwhile to teach us?
God sees each of us as equally precious, each of us worth the sacrifice Jesus made to pay for our sins so we could spend eternity with Him.
It may go against what the world teaches, but we should try to do the same.
Have you ever found yourself valuing people for what they can do for you, rather than as someone treasured by God, no matter what they can do?