“Ruby” (name changed to protect the guilty) was a lady in a church I served in Mississippi who could best be described as eccentric.
You never knew what Ruby might say or do. She often told a story that made no sense, and then burst out laughing at her own joke with a distinctive cackle. Often when a visitor would show up for church, she would give them a negative evaluation of how they were dressed that day. Once we were having a wedding reception at the church, but the air conditioning was not working properly. It was cool outside, so a young man opened the back door to let the cool air in. Ruby grabbed her umbrella and started beating him with it for opening the door.
Ruby was known for visiting other people, and walking into their bedroom closets to see what stuff they had. Being a small town, the local grocery store had bag boys who would take your groceries to your car. However, none of them wanted to take Ruby’s groceries to her car, because she would pinch them on the seat. Whenever the senior adults went on a trip, they would all wait and see which church van Ruby got in, and then the seniors would fight to get in the other van. A few gracious senior adults would just go ahead and get in the van with Ruby.
Most churches have a member like Ruby who is “high-maintenance,” or EGR (extra grace required). I think God deliberately puts people like that in our churches, to test our faith.
After all, the fruit of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life includes patience (Galatians 5:22). The Greek word used in the verse for patience is not the word for patience to wait a long time. No, it is the word for patience with people, a willingness to endure and put up with those who drive us crazy. Why should we have to do that? Colossians 3:13 tells us we should bear with one another and forgive one another, because the Lord forgave us.
I’m not saying that we should put up with unreasonable and offensive behavior from church members. There is a time to lovingly rebuke people like Ruby when they cross the line of decency. But I am saying that we should be willing to extend extra grace to minor eccentricities that really don’t matter in the long run.
No matter how much extra grace an EGR person requires, it can never be as much grace as we received from Jesus. So in Christ’s name, let’s be like those gracious senior adults who went ahead and got in the van with Ruby.
Copyright 2007 by Bob Rogers. You can read more “Holy Humor” on the Web page of First Baptist Church of Rincon at www.fbcrincon.com.