Pop! Pop! Shiny red and silver stars showered down on us as we gathered to celebrate the much-advertised opening of a new department store in our medium-sized city.
A little girl bent down and tried to pick up as many of the stars as she could. A few adults standing nearby gathered stars and handed them to her.
Several hundred of us listened to speeches by the mayor and other dignitaries. Then the manager announced that the first 500 people would receive a $10 gift card and that one person would receive a $1,000 shopping spree. Finally, the long-awaited moment arrived, and the manager opened the front door. The crowd began to move forward. . . .
Having grown up in one of the largest cities in America (which we will not name), we didn’t quite know what to expect as far as the crowd’s behavior. Would people elbow each other out of the way? Would they charge the manager and knock others down? Would someone fall and be trampled underfoot?
To our great surprise, the crowd quietly and calmly moved toward the door. People politely waited their turn to receive their gift card. When the manager announced the winner of the $1,000 shopping spree, everyone applauded.
As children, we had seen people run into a store the second the door opened, grab every bargain they could, and fight with other customers over a piece of merchandise. But today, we saw no one quarreling, treating others rudely, or grabbing what they wanted from someone else. How refreshing!
Often in our world these days, you get the impression that the “right” to pleasure and possessions are more important than people. The media blast such messages as “buy this because you deserve it” and “look out for number one.” Advertisements depict selfish people being rude and obnoxious toward others. Seeing such behavior must be confusing to children, but it can also provide an important teaching opportunity. If their parents teach them the Golden Rule and yet the children see others doing the opposite of it, they have to learn to make the right choices in spite of what others do.
As we pondered this, we remembered Romans 13:7 says, “Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor” (NIV). The sermons we have heard about this passage have dealt with being good citizens by paying our taxes and respecting the law. But God’s Word also tells us to treat others respectfully and to show honor to whom it is due.
Often people forget about showing respect when they’re in the midst of a crowd. Once someone starts putting others down or acting in a rude or inconsiderate manner others may join in, and then a “crowd mentality” takes over. Unless someone stands up for what is right, the outcome is seldom a positive one.
Although it was just a simple act of kindness, the adults who picked up the stars and gave them to the little girl set a wonderful example for her and the other children in the crowd.
Father, help us to remember that we are on display for You and to always treat others with respect.