With the new year just around the corner, I am faced yet again with the question: What is God’s message to us for the new year?
My wife read a story recently and as she told it to me, I knew this was the message … not only for me, but for ALL of us this new year…
It seems there was an elderly lady who entered an elite restaurant. She was dirty, and her clothing was in rags. None of the employees wanted to go near her, let alone seat her.
Being an independent sort, she seated herself at an empty table in the far corner and picked up the menu. Unfortunately her vision was such that she couldn’t see the fine print, so she looked around for someone who could come and help her. With a bright smile on her dirty face, she motioned towards the group of waitresses.
Unfortunately for her, these waitresses were all whispering behind their hands: “Who does SHE think she is, coming in HERE!” “She should go to the MacDonalds down the street!” “Someone should ask her to leave, she sure doesn’t fit in here!”
Only one waitress, whom we shall call Mary, took pity on the old lady and approached the table. “May I help you?”
The old lady smiled a toothless smile. “I hear you have the best ice cream in town,” she said. “It is my 75th birthday; but since all of my family has long since moved away and my friends have passed on, I am alone. I’ve been saving up all year so that I could treat myself today to some of your ice cream.” She pointed to the menu. “Would you be so kind as to show me which one is your very best ice cream?”
Mary looked down at the menu and pointed to an item. “This is our best,” she stated with pride.
“How much?” asked the old lady.
“$50.00” was the reply.
The lady looked disappointed. “I don’t have quite enough,” she admitted. “Which one is your next best ice cream?”
Mary quickly moved her finger to the next ice cream on the list. “This one,” she said. “It’s $40.00”.
“Perfect! Bring me that one!” cried the lady, and she settled into her chair to await her longed-for ice cream birthday treat.
“Why did you do that!?” scoffed the other waitresses as Mary turned in the old lady’s order. “Why didn’t you send her away?”
Just then the criticism was interrupted as the door once again opened and a well-dressed young lady entered. She adjusted her pearl necklace as she looked around, then twisting the diamond rings on her fingers, she motioned to the waitresses. “Give me a table,” she barked.
One of the other waitresses, whom we shall call Alice, stepped quickly forward and led the well-dressed lady to the most prominent table in the restaurant. She then proceeded to dote on the new customer, taking her order and smiling as the woman ordered the most expensive items on the menu. Then she proceeded to flit about, filling her drinks without having to be asked, etc.
“See?” Alice crooned as she brought the order to the kitchen. “THAT’s the kind of clients we need more of!”
The kitchen was a bit slow that day, and very soon the well-dressed lady began to complain about the service. When her meal finally came, she complained that it wasn’t hot enough, that the chicken wasn’t cooked well enough, that there was too much dressing on her salad.
Meanwhile, the little old lady silently ate her ice cream, her face nearly cracking from her smile of satisfaction.
It wasn’t long before Alice approached the well-dressed lady with her bill. “WHAT?” cried the lady. “$200 for … THAT? The service has been terrible, the kitchen has been slow, and the food was awful! I’m NOT paying THAT!” and she stomped out the door, slamming it firmly behind her.
Meanwhile, the little old lady finished her ice cream, and leaving the money on the table, she quietly went out into the afternoon.
In a moment, both Alice and Mary were clearing their respective clients’ tables. “See?” Alice croaked. “She didn’t leave you a tip, did she! People like that NEVER leave tips!”
Mary straightened slowly to look Alice in the eye. “On the contrary,” she stated. “Her bill was $40.00. She said she wouldn’t take the $50.00 ice cream because she didn’t have enough money saved up.” She reached up and wiped a tear from her eye as she picked up the two $20.00 bills and the one $10.00 dollar bill from the table. “She refused the $50.00 ice cream so that she could leave me a $10.00 tip!”
Alice turned back to her table, silently moving aside every dish and every napkin. There was no tip on her table…
(Original author unknown)
The point is, we can never, ever judge someone by their skin or their clothing or their age or their smile. We can only judge them by their heart. This reminds me of an important scripture: “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” (John 7:24 NIV).
As this new year rolls in, let’s commit to loving one another and leaving the judgment to God. Don’t forget: “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?” (Romans 2:1-3 NIV)
May your new year be happy — and free of condemnation towards others!
In His love,
Director, Answers2Prayer Ministries