Several months ago, I made a trip to the eastern panhandle to visit with one of our boys. Going into town, I made a stop at my favorite grocery store in that area. I needed some snacks. The store was rather busy at the time. Since I only had three items, I headed toward the “12 items or less” checkout aisle. Just as I was about to step up to the counter, a matriarchal-looking lady hurriedly slipped in front of me. She had a cart full of food. It was no big deal to me. I was in no hurry. But, it did occur to me that she did not have any respect for the aisle designation in relationship to other customers.
While in her primary position, she proved problematic. I observed in amazement. She was very sharp with the cashier in double-checking certain sales items. She demanded that most of the groceries be double bagged, including the light bread items. In the meantime, customers in the other checkout lanes were getting things paid for much quicker than those of us who had gathered in this aisle.
She refused to let the bagger place any of the $156.78 worth of groceries in her cart. She had to do it herself. Taking her huge pocket book, she then started looking for coupons—-in every pocket. She waited until she had collected every coupon needed before handing them to the cashier. All the coupons redeemed reduced the sum to $151.29 (at this point I was taking notes). The moment worsened as she took so long to retrieve the money from her change purse. The paper money came out easy enough, but the change was a different story. She dug out one nickel, then twenty-four pennies one at a time.
After getting the receipt, she turned to those of behind her and asked, I have not held either of you up have I?” No one said a word, but I know what I was thinking. She had gotten up front, and had and used it powerfully without any regard for those serving her, or for those behind her.
If you think about it, there is a certain measure of power in many circumstances that come with being in front. There is the power of time. There is the power of presence. There is the power of position. The person up front can manipulate the focus, such as this particular individual.
However, this incident provides an important teaching moment for people of the church. It is found in the fact that there are no people accorded greater front position than the Christian. Consider the reality that through the salvation experience Christians become the elect children of God. The church is regarded as the “Bride of Christ.” We are gifted by the Holy Spirit. We are given insight into the Word of God. We are blessed with God-given privileges designed only for us. We are privileged to “sit in Heavenly places in Christ.”
Yet, despite these distinct advantages given to us by God, we are directed to demonstrate an others-directed attitude and mindset. We are not to be proud or arrogant. Apostle Paul set the tone. He said that we as the “elect of God” should qualify Christian virtues toward others, such as mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, and patient forbearance of others. We are to qualify the ministry of Christ, who did not come to be served, but to serve. In other words, the spiritually endowed power of the front is supposed to be used by the Christian to represent Christ. In this way, others best experience the love of God. In this way, Christ is glorified for the benefit of those who need Him.
How are you employing your power of the front?
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.