Our church in Ottawa has been providing us with an extraordinary blessing for many months now: a video-taped teaching series by Garry and Anne Marie Ezzo entitled, “Growing Kids God’s Way” (subtitled, “Biblical Ethics for Parenting” – the book is published by Michah 6:8, Simi Valley, California, 93063). Even if you don’t have children, this thing will change your life and will instill in you teaching that you should have always received as a child growing up, but was never properly delivered to you. Thank God for the Ezzos. Friends, you’ve got to watch this series. It will leave you totally blessed.
One thing that Pastor Ezzo talked about was about how we treat our fellow citizen. Now this has really convicted me and caused me to rethink my strategy. He talks about how, at the grocery store, we may be inclined to leave our shopping cart near our car, instead of taking an extra 30 seconds to return it to its proper place. In so doing, we are treating our fellow man contemptuously … for who ever enjoyed trying to park their car in the same spot as the last “fellow” ended up parking his or her shopping cart? Therefore, “put your shopping carts away.” Or, as Pastor Ezzo highlights, let me put it another way: the next person who comes along to park their car in that spot might be your mother. It might be your brother. It might be you! Whoever it is, it is someone created in the image and likeness of God. To not put your shopping cart away, says Pastor Ezzo, is to disregard that which God has created. It is to treat it with disrespect. It is to treat it contemptuously.
The other day (just yesterday, in fact), I was driving along when suddenly the light turned red. I stopped, of course, waiting anxiously for the light to turn green again. The light turned from red to green, and, before you knew it, I made the left hand turn quickly — before the other guy in front of me could go straight through (hope you see the picture). I “jutted in,” as they say. I “butted in,” in fact. I did something wrong. That is the “old me.” That is the man that Pastor Ezzo says treats his fellow citizen with disrespect, even contemptously (I am paraphrasing here). The man honked his horn, as if to say, “Hey, buddy! You butted in line! I don’t like that! You’re not in my good books! A curse be upon you!” – Yikes! I sinned (and I don’t like curses). I finally realized that my pattern of behavior in this regard is wrong, and always has been wrong, because of that teaching series by the Ezzos … and the series goes into plenty more besides that! This is just one of a score of things that Pastor Ezzo discusses in his series, under the category, “Character Development, Respect for Peers, Property, and Nature” (there are 16 other larger categories covered, as well, which are broken down into individual teaching sessions(video)/chapters (book)).
I am so used to doing things the “old way.” You know. Rush into work, because I am a little late, and forget about the man or woman behind me. Now, I am going to have to open that door just a little more often — lest I be branded (by God) as a “disrepectful person” (which I have been). When I speed, explains Pastor Ezzo, I am having disregard for God’s laws. Another area I need to reform. Again, I am being contemptuous (a paraphrase, again). Friends, if we examined our lives carefully, what type of person could we be said to be? Do we really treat our fellow human beings with the same type of dignity that they deserve, they being created equally as we, in God’s image and likeness? I can tell you, it sure made a difference to the way I treated the guy at the front desk this morning, on my way in to work. I was actually cheerful for a change. My eyes were glittering. I can only imagine what he thought of me. “Is this guy too happy, or what?” (The truth of the matter is that I had also been to church the night before, and had therefore been “enabled” or “empowered”, if you will, by an extraordinary dose of God’s mercy and strength. Oh, how we need it.)
If I throw a piece of bubble gum on the ground, again, I am doing the same thing (do you know how long bubble gum takes to decompose? A long time. Better to throw it in the trash can.). Not only am I having disrespect for God’s creation, and polluting it, I am again having disrespect for my fellow man, who is created in God’s image. Remember mom or brother? Well, again, they might come along and step on that piece of gum. Or again, it could be yourself (now who are you going to curse?). And how about the clean up man? “Oh, it’s his J-O-B to clean up my litter!” you might say. But just think about how he feels when he’s doing it. Do you suppose he is saying to himself, “Lucky guy that I am, able to clean up this litter … praise God!” He may not be as much “in the Spirit” as you are on these things. Instead, he might even be breathing threats against those “people who do such things … why can’t they clean up their mess and why do they have to make my day so difficult with their little pieces of gum!!?” No wonder he just leaves it there! It’s too hard to remove! And then everyone else steps on it … and the cursing goes on, all because you couldn’t take the extra time to put it in it’s place. I think you get the point. Better to receive the blessing from the man, from God, and from society in general, rather than the curse.
Treat your fellow man with respect! After all, he is created in God’s holy and perfect image. Let’s be careful now! As you practice these things, you will be a great testimony, and Jesus — your Lord and our Lord — will be glorified.