Monday, October 12, 2009


Every once in a while, that petty little beast wakes up in me, colors my eye with bitter jaundice and looks around with gritted-teeth irritation at those who are..inadequate.

This Saturday, I took a small group from my church to our local clothing closet for a few hours of sorting and setting out clothing for folks in our community who are struggling financially. I'll bring by clothes for donation often as well. It's an important thing for Jesus people to do. That's not because we're obeying an edict that says "Be Charitable Or Else." It's because real Christian compassion moves people to action...because we love as He loved, and are willing to give to others as freely as He gave himself for us.

As I moved clothes from the giant donation bins to the racks out on the display floor, I found myself growing increasingly irritated. It had been a bustling morning, and my balanced breakfast had been two equally sized cups of coffee...followed by no lunch at all. A caffeine-only diet never works well for my mood, and I could feel my snarkishness rising.

Many of the folks who come to the center in need of clothing move quietly among the racks, selecting work clothes or school clothes for their children. They politely ask the staff for help finding car seats for their children.

Others...well...others don't seem to quite *cough* grasp the system. They gather huge bags of clothes. They holler at their kids every forty seconds or so. They camp out in the back where the volunteers are sorting, hoping to snag choice items before they're set out. They ignore the staff when they're told they have taken too much, and continue to stuff bags full when the facility is closed and they're asked to leave.

Look at them! They are...undeserving! Unworthy! Or so snarled my inner Pharisee, who boiled over with indignation and outrage at these fools who were so clearly the source of their own suffering. If they were the sorts of people who knew How To Follow the Rules, they wouldn't be in this mess. Just look at them! Ignorant! Pushy! Selfish! I could feel myself growing more and more intolerant, along with a strange compulsion to watch FoxNews.

I let that mood run for a few moments, marveling at how easy it must be to live a life thinking this way. I then reminded myself of why my heart compels me to care...even for folks who don't "deserve" it...and with the Apostle Paul's help, stomped that little demon into oblivion.