Mrs. Sally (not her real name) was the one woman people hated to see at a church covered-dish supper.
It wasn’t because she brought a nasty fruit cake that nobody wanted to eat. It was because she didn’t bring anything at all.
Mrs. Sally was a faithful church member and Sunday School teacher at a small church in Mississippi, but she had a strange idea about meals at the church. Whenever we got together for a church fellowship, she came to eat, but she never brought any food. She would say, “They always have extra food left over; there’s no sense in me bringing more food and it going to waste.” Then she and her family would fill up their plates and enjoy the great Southern cooking of the rest of the congregation. To top it off, before she left, Mrs. Sally would heap an extra helping on a paper plate, cover it with aluminum foil, and take it home. As she brazenly walked out the door, she would explain to the astonished onlookers, “This is for ‘Paw,’ because he can’t come to church.”
It was interesting to watch church members’ reaction to this. Some would turn red in the face; some would laugh and wink at each other. Nobody was bold enough to say anything to Mrs. Sally about it, but they said plenty to one another. One day some members were fussing about how Mrs. Sally had just mooched off them again, and an older deacon calmly replied, “Well, maybe the Lord just wants us to feed Mrs. Sally and her family.”
That deacon understood that there are some things that aren’t a big enough deal to get worked up about. Sure, Mrs. Sally should have done her part and brought some food, but then some of the people who always brought plenty of food to church pot-luck only put a dollar in the offering plate, whereas Mrs. Sally faithfully tithed her income. Don’t we all have areas in our lives where we could improve? Jesus said that before you begin to take the speck out of your brother’s eye, you need to remove the log from your own eye (Matthew 7:3-5).
Much strife, whether at church or home or work, could be avoided if we had the wisdom of that deacon to let our anger over little things go. As the apostle Paul taught, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18, ESV). How ironic that in the same passage, Paul gave the example that “if your enemy is hungry, feed him” (Romans 12:20). Surely if we can feed our enemies, we can feed our brothers and sisters in Christ— even when they don’t feed us.
Copyright 2007 by Bob Rogers. Read this column each Thursday for a mix of religion and humor. You can read more “Holy Humor” on the Web page of First Baptist Church of Rincon at www.fbcrincon.com.