Thought for the Day: Does It Matter?

When I was growing up in the 60’s I observed on all the TV shows (Bonanza, Dragnet, Wild Wild West, etc) that when men walked into a building, be it a restaurant, a hotel, a home, and especially a church, they removed their hat. And if it’s on TV, it must be true. But I also observed the men in my community did this as well. It was a gesture, a custom, of respect. Does it matter? It did then.

Now, when I go to a restaurant, a hospital room, and even a church, so many guys (even the old guys!) keep their hats on. What happen to the standard of respect?, I wondered. On Bonanza, even Little Joe Cartwright took off his hat in the house! What caused these changes in values I wonder? And especially among the very generation that used to abide by it.

I just wonder about stuff like that. Then I ask myself, “Does it matter?”

Another thing I ponder about is tattoos. I’m in the gym locker room and and notice guys with big tattoos between their shoulder blades. Why do they put it on a part of their body which they themselves can never see? I sometimes think ahead into the future a few decades, when some of these men (and women) will be in nursing homes, with shriveled images all over them. Will they regret it? Should be an interesting thing to observe.

Not intending to be insulting. I just observe people and wonder to myself what motivates them to do what they do. Like the guys who wear their pants hanging below their butts; that doesn’t look neither comfortable or safe. What if they suddenly need to sprint across the street and their pants fall and hog tie them right in the intersection? Does that matter? Well, it could.

Or how about one woman I saw with a tight t-shirt that read across the chest, “Grab this” . You’ve got to wonder, what if… ? It’s all fascinating. These folks are obviously very expressive and are not concerned about the opinions of others. I admire that kind of liberated thinking; even I’m not quite sure what it was that they were thinking. And does it really matter?

When I was younger I used to say that I didn’t care what other people think of me. “It doesn’t matter”, I’d say. Then I realized that I was lying; actually I did care and it did matter. Sometimes I really worried about it. I felt like I had to thoroughly explain myself, especially to someone who disagreed with me. I just needed to be understood.

Nowadays, I’m not so sure. I find that even some of my closest friends don’t understand me. And then I just choose to let it go. Sometimes explaining yourself makes you sound more confusing.

Dr. John MacArthur made a really good point recently when he said, “We wouldn’t worry so much about what other people think of us if we realized how seldom they do.

Consider Jesus, the perfect man, God incarnate. Some said he was glutton and a “wine bibber”. He was a party guy who hung out with sinners and tax collectors (“those people”). Even today, people get it wrong about who He is; often choosing to describe Him according to what they want to, or need to, believe.

People think what they want to think and believe what they want to believe Should I appease those who choose to believe things about me that are neither correct or kind? In the end the truth is uncovered. You may never live to see it, but while you’re alive there may be little you can do to push it out there for all to see.

That’s why integrity and character are so vitally important. Whose opinion really matters if you know how you stand in God’s eyes?

“Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and according to my integrity within me… My defense is of God, who saves the upright in heart.” (Psalm 7:8, 10)

Your name and your character outlive you. Eventually, whatever dirt someone tried to throw on your name will be rinsed off by a wash of truth and a rinse of time.

“The memory of the righteous is blessed.” (Proverbs 10:7)

“ A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold “ (Proverbs 22:1).

Now that’s what matters.

The Land of Beginning Again

The late commentator William Barclay had this wonderful quote from an unknown author:

“How I wish that there was some wonderful place called ‘The Land of Beginning Again’, where all our mistakes and all our heartaches, and all our poor selfish grief could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door and never be put on again.

I recall hearing the story of a 70+ year old woman at a nursing home. Whenever she saw a baby or heard a child’s cry, she would be overcome with guilt and remorse, and would break down into sobs. Though it had been a half century earlier in her life, her abortion was still as fresh in her mind as if it had been yesterday.

When I travel on my bike through various states and their small towns, and some of the churches and cafes, I meet so many interesting and diverse people. Everyone of course has some kind of past; some folks are plagued by theirs.

Every now and then God gives me the privilege and opportunity to have a deeper conversation during a “chance” meeting with a someone at a Sheetz or a coffee shop, or just on the road. There are a lot of hurting people out there. When you look at the face of the driver in the car next to yours at the light, do you ever wonder what they’re thinking about? What heart aches they may be wrestling with that day? Walking down the street or through the mall, notice the faces. There is a story behind each one.

And behind yours. How many know your story? Certainly God does.

For the believer in Christ, there is the promise of the cross and the Resurrection. In Colossians 2, Paul reminds us that all the rules and laws that convict of sin and paralyze us with guilt, have been “taken … out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” (Col. 2:14b-15). Believe it; taken out of the way, out of your way.

Be encouraged in this: Jesus sees the person you have been, BUT, He also empowers you to become the person you could be.