I accidentally sprinkled chili powder (instead of cinnamon) in my snicker doodle cookie dough. I didn’t figure there was any way to doctor up chili powdered snicker doodles, so yeah, that batch was ruined. Then a couple days later I accidentally sprinkled cinnamon (instead of paprika) on top of my chicken and rice casserole. This time I tried to doctor it up and drown out the cinnamon by adding more salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. No, this didn’t work. But I didn’t want to throw out a whole pan of dinner, so out of politeness, my family went ahead and ate the chicken and rice (and cinnamon) casserole. I must admit, it was not pleasant to my taste buds at all. Bless them!
Doggone packaging! Red labels. White lettering. Black lids. Same size containers. They both reside on the same Lazy Susan on my shelf above my stove. But oh my goodness, the contents of these look-alike spice containers were very different.
It got me thinking. People can be like this. They look a certain similar way on the outside. Same job, same family, same church, same background, same clothes, same accent, same upbringing, same age, same lifestyle, same beliefs, etc. They can have the same “packaging” on the outside, but the contents on the inside are very different. What you see isn’t necessarily what you get. Sometimes the “labels” are incorrect. Sweet people on the outside can be sour on the inside. Bubbly people on the outside can be bitter on the inside. You don’t realize it until they “spill out” onto you. And oh my goodness, sometimes this can be very unpleasant.
The temptation is, just like with my cooking, to try to “doctor up” these people and drown out all their unpleasantness that shakes out onto us. But just like my cooking, it doesn’t work. But the truth is it’s not our job to “doctor up” people. It’s not our responsibility to fix or change them. That responsibility lies solely with God. And while this may feel unpleasant, it’s actually quite freeing.
If we let go of our self-appointed responsibility to change people, perhaps we can begin to just love them. To love them as they are, not love them for what we want them to become. To see them as God sees them, not as unpleasant individuals. To treat them as individuals for whom Christ died. To listen to their struggles and challenges, because in reality they’re not too far from our own. To give them worth and value and support and applause, because we might be the only ones who are.
We’re all unique individuals with unique strengths, gifts, skills, passions, interests, and abilities. Jesus ran into all kinds of unique people in His day that came in various shapes, sizes, maturity levels, goals, agendas, talents, and knowledge. We gotta wonder if this was unpleasant for Him as well. But time after time, we don’t see Jesus trying to “doctor up” people. We see Him loving them. Meeting them where they are. Having compassion on them. Engaging them in conversation. And telling them about life through Him.
How about we spice up our own lives a bit by spilling out the love of Jesus onto the unique people God places in our path?