Friday, May 18, 2012

Go Beyond Others' Expectations...You'll Smile!

Yesterday, my wife and I went to buy a few items at Giant Eagle. As we headed toward the self check, I spotted a display of DVDs. Among them were several titles by Leslie Sansone, the inventor of the simple walk at home workouts Ann and I really enjoy. One title looked especially good to us and the price was just $7.99.

We tossed the DVD into our cart and headed for the checkout. The last item I scanned was the Leslie Sansone DVD. As I did, the computer-generated voice said, "9.99." I touched the button on the computer screen for assistance and within seconds, a store manager appeared.

I explained what happened and she said, "Go ahead and complete your transaction, sir, and meet me at the register ahead." At the register, she hit some buttons and was handing my receipt to me when my wife, more alert than me, said, "You gave us the DVD for free?" "That's right!" she said, "have a nice evening and enjoy the workout."

Even if Ann and I didn't already love Giant Eagle, we would have become fans at that moment.

I've since learned that what the manager did is corporate policy.

But can you imagine what the world would be like if we did always did more than was expected of us?

What would happen in our families and marriages?

In our businesses and churches?

Based on what Ann and I felt as we left Giant Eagle yesterday, I can tell you there would be a lot more smiling faces. (The fun thing is the manager smiled too. It feels good when we go above and beyond people's expectations of us!)

Jesus once said that those who follow Him are to love even their enemies and to pray for the people who persecute them for their allegiance to Him.

At one level, that makes sense: The believer in Jesus knows that because of God's great charity, we're forgiven for our sins and Christ has given us a relationship with God that lasts eternally. We can afford to be loving and to pray for those who hate us. We know that nothing can separate us from the love of God given through Jesus!

Still, loving and praying for enemies is a countercultural and, really, who in this world would expect a person to do such crazy things?

But Jesus goes on to explain: "...if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?...And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others?..." When we fail to love our enemies and pray for those who give us a hard time in life, we're no different from everybody else. But, Jesus calls those who want to follow Him into eternity, to be different. In Matthew 5:48, He tells His followers to "be your heavenly Father is perfect," meaning abandon the fractured, self-protecting ways of this world and embrace the wholeness and self-giving ways of God Himself.

Company policy at Giant Eagle set that manager free to be more considerate of two customers than we expected her to be.

Jesus Christ sets those who believe in Him free to be the people of love and consideration that we want to be, that God made us to be.

Loving enemies and praying for those who hate us way may not change the minds or hearts of those who experience our love. But then again it might.

And having permission to go above and beyond others' expectations like that is a wonderful thing!

If you confess that Jesus is your God and King, you are among the most free human beings on the planet. (Even when your enemies are powerful people who put you in jail for your faith in Christ!)

So, use your freedom!

Go ahead, right now: Do something loving for an enemy, pray for those who persecute or ridicule your faith. It will make you smile!

[Be sure to look at the passages from Scripture that you can click onto from the links above.]