For two weeks I was able to read without a magnifying glass. Then a tiny speck appeared on the edge of the right lens of my new eyeglasses. At first I thought it was an ink spot. But cleaning the lens didn’t remove it. Maybe it won’t get any bigger. I dreaded the thought of having to send them back. It had been wonderful, being able to see my computer screen and the printed page clearly. But a few days later, the speck expanded and resembled a chip on a windshield. In addition, a minuscule crack had appeared in the left lens.
So back to the eye doctor I went. And learned that our insurance requires them to use the company that manufactured the lenses.
“They do shoddy work,” the doctor’s assistant told me. The lenses were made too big, and the pressure of being forced into frames too small had caused them to crack.
“How long will it take—another seven to 10 days?” I asked. “Maybe since this is a return due to their mistake, they’ll speed up the process?”
She shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. They don’t care. They have so much business that one customer doesn’t make a difference.”
Putting the customer first, quality products and quality service have taken a backseat to me, myself and I—and big customers with deep pockets. Corporate hearts have hardened toward the little guy.
But before I call the kettle black, perhaps I should look into my own heart. Where have I become calloused?
Have I attended to the physical needs of others or do I just wish them well (James 2:14-16)? Do I give generously (Ephesians 4:28) or am I tightfisted with my money, possessions, time and talents (2 Corinthians 9:6–11)? I think of Haiti, people in Third World countries, Russian children who live in sewers, and I feel overwhelmed by the quantity and depth of the needs. I think of the many organizations that respond to these needs, and I allow confusion over which organization to give to hold me back from giving as I should.
God wants us to have a heart like His. He commanded us to show mercy and compassion to one another (Zechariah 7:9), to act justly and to love mercy (Micah 6:8), to clothe ourselves with tenderhearted mercy (Colossians 3:12). “Having no interest in or concern for other people, their needs and activities”* is indifference, another of the subtle sins God has brought to my attention.
When I was a little girl, I used to lie in bed at night, dreaming of going to Third World countries to help others. My desire to make a difference was so strong, I couldn’t get to sleep. My heart would break when I’d see the aged, the blind, the crippled, the infirm, the helpless. I wanted to do something. I even looked into the Peace Corps when I was in college.
But somewhere along the way, I lost that passion to help others. My life, by my own choices, took a different direction. Then God used my flippant response to a local tragedy to show me how far I’ve gotten from that tenderhearted young girl, the places in my heart that have become hard, calloused. I’m too often like the priest and the Levite in Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan, who either didn’t want to take the time or get their hands dirty helping someone else.
Just like the speck in my eyeglass lens grew bigger and bigger until I had to send them back to the maker, so the sin of indifference has grown to a defect in my character. In order to correct the flaw and for my heart to become a heart like God’s—tender, compassionate, loving—it, too, must be sent back to the Maker, who promised, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26 NIV).
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10 RSV). Amen.
Special-Tea: Luke 10:30–37; Isaiah 58:6–9
*Definition from Children’s Ministry Resource Bible ©1993, Child Evangelism Fellowship Inc.