Friday, February 6, 2009

Don't Play Favorites

I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism. 1 Timothy 5:21 TNIV

I took one of my teens to the doctor this week seeking relief from the latest strain of "the crud". We sat in the waiting room for more than an hour beyond our 2:00pm appointment time. Though we desperately tried to shield ourselves from the hacking, wheezing, whining hoard, we found there was no escape. I approached the receptionist's desk, asking if we could expect to be seen soon, or did we have time to take in a matinee? She sweetly apologized for our long wait, and told me it would only be a few minutes more.

After the visit, we returned to the receptionist to take care of our copay. The person in line in front of us was a petite young Hispanic woman carrying an obviously ill toddler, wrapped in a shabby blanket. As she drew close to the office window, she got an earful from the receptionist (remember the one who was so nice earlier?) "I TOLD you to go to the emergency room!" she bellowed. The woman's response indicated she spoke little or no English. Again, in an even louder tone, the receptionist shouted "I TOLD you...GO to the EMERGENCY ROOM!" as if her rising volume level would some how turn up the woman's understanding. Confused and embarrassed, the woman stepped aside so I could check out. When the receptionist saw me, she instantly became the sweet person I had talked to earlier. "Thank you, Mrs. Oden" she said with saccharin sweetness. I paid my bill, and headed toward the parking lot, stunned at the partiality the receptionist had shown to me, the 40 something white lady with insurance. All the way home, I wished I'd had some guilt-inducing comment at the ready for the unkind way she had treated that young mother.

God is not a fan of partiality. All people are fashioned in the image and likeness of God, and none is less valuable than another. The incident at the doctor's office provided a powerful lesson to my teenager: what NOT to do. Can you think of incidents where you have treated someone unkindly because of the color of their skin, their handicap, or economic status? In our verse today, we're told to "do nothing out of favoritism". As we go to worship this weekend, let's commit to treat ALL people, especially those who are different from us, with the love and respect they deserve.

Prayer for Today: Father, help me to see people as YOU see them. Help me not to extend kindness or favoritism to people because they are influential, wealthy, or powerful. Help me to love, honor, and prefer others, without partiality, as You have commanded. In Christ's Name, I pray. Amen.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this blog. It isn't fair that people are not treated the same. I am trying to be a better person with this issue. I know that God created all of us equal. So, we need to treat each other with love and understanding about our differences.

LeadHership: said...

Grrrrrreat post. I grew up in an environment that was very hostile toward homosexuals. Once I became an adult & entered the real world, I gave that ingrained prejudice to God. And it is no more. Thankful 4 that.

Leslie Oden said...

Thanks for sharing, Heather. I think the church as a whole has had a deplorable attitude toward homosexuals. Jesus doesn't love or condone sin, but He's wild about sinners, and we should be, too. Great comment!

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Don't feel guilty because you didn't say something at that moment. If you're like me, sometimes, I need a moment to process what I just witnessed before I can respond.

Medical people complain that poor uneducated people flood our emergency rooms in the hospitals and force the cost of medical care up. Well, what else are they supposed to do when a regular doctor's office refuses to see them? Technically, the woman didn't have an emergency and she was doing the right thing by going to a doctor's office. How do they know she couldn't pay? It doesn't sound like they even gave her a chance.

Leslie Oden said...

You're right, Jennifer. It did take me some time to process what happened that day. I didn't have anything clever or snarky to say to the receptionist at that moment, but I think that's for the best. Who knows what pressures contributed to her intolerant attitude that day? What I walked away with was a message to share with my readers, encouraging all of us to search our own hearts for prejudice, and ask God to change us. Thanks for your comment!