This morning’s Upper Room included Ephesians 4:29– “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Since most of us are regularly communicating with those around us, this is a real important challenge. Sometimes we let our own frustrations come out in the form of negative words toward someone else, which doesn’t exactly qualify as “building others up.”
Yesterday afternoon, I stopped in at Food Lion to pick up a couple things. As I waited in line, I observed the woman in front of me steadily watching the cashier, who was probably just a few years younger than I am. Apparently he was neither fast nor smart enough for her. He rang her green onions up as regular onions, and she made some comment like, “Regular large onions, really??” The cashier was quiet. The woman also had a banana wrapped in a plastic bag, and he double-checked what is was, clarifying, “This is a banana, right?” The woman responded, “You’ve got to be kidding.”
Throughout this exchange, I watched the cashier, and exchanged a smile with him while the woman was carrying on with negative comments insinuating his general unintelligence. I really admire how he ignored her rude judgments. After the customer left and he began to ring up my groceries, he did not turn up his nose at her, and made no smart remark about how difficult some customers can be. Instead of responding in-kind, or even at all, he gracefully went along doing his job. I’m sure there were some times in my past when I worked in food services that I could have taken a lesson from him in grace-filled responses.
Anyway, the whole point of me writing about this encounter is that it reminded me how important it is to choose our words carefully. Growing up, Mom was constantly saying to us, “We use words that build people up, not tear them down.” Genuine kind words can make the bleakest day bright and the best day better. To quote Plato, another fine philosopher, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”