Supermarket Righteousness

Sometimes we Christians make righteousness a theological state of mind rather than a practice of our faith. I once heard Bruce Waltke state that “righteousness is disadvantaging yourself in order to advantage others.” I think that is one aspect that ought to be explored in, say, supermarket etiquette. Does righteousness exist in your trip to the store? Righteousness is how you respond to the situations that present themselves in public and in public places when nobody is watching.

Take for instance those pesky shopping carts in the parking lot. How does one express righteousness with a shopping cart? Pretty easily. I remember when we used to have to bring the cart back to the store when we were through with it. Many people would just leave them strewn across the parking lot. Now we have cart corrals. I feel for all those youngsters sent out into the weather to retrieve those carts because for some reason we shoppers cannot seem to place them in the corrals in a decent and orderly manner. They are all in disarray making it more difficult for others to place their carts in the corral and sometimes they get stuck up on each other because of how we carelessly leave the front portion open. We are in a hurry, we know someone else is paid for that job, so we are quick to leave it a mess. How Christian! Aren’t we supposed to leave the world better than we found it? Are we not called to ease the work of others, not add to it? Yes, it will take you 10 more precious seconds. No, you will not get any thanks, and the workers will seldom see you do it. But God is watching how you live out your righteousness. Place the cart in the corral stacking them as intended – you may even need to move a couple other carts to line them up appropriately. That small act of kindness, of taking time to be nice is the mark of righteousness. Yup, you are disadvantaged, you receive no pay, no thanks, and you have to spend more time at the cart corral. But the advantage you give to others, to the young employee trying to make a living pushing shopping carts, to the motorists trying to dodge the overflowing cart bins, to the next person to place their cart in the corral… if you can be a righteous cart-caretaker then when you find yourself in the middle of the big righteous decisions of life, you will have the advantage.

Now, after you tackle the carts, just think of all the ways righteousness presents itself on the shelves and floors of the supermarket. This is your cathedral of holiness. Misplaced items, dropped change, that one bag of groceries left in your pile from the person before you, fallen displays (even if you didn’t do it), and that nagging sign that says, “20 items or less” or “cash only.” Yup. Having a theory of righteousness and no practice of it leaves you with bupkis. Christ died so you could live – so live out your Christianity quietly in public. Who knows who might be watching a few aisles down… or a few clouds above…

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