Only Because I Have To Be?

A buddy of mine and I recently strolled into a local car lot. He’s preparing for the day when he has to finally buy a new car. He’s driving a 2001 Ford Focus that had absorbed more of his paychecks than he would ever get in return. So, it’s time.

With the economy still not doing so well, the cost of used cars has gone the way of the dollar, and it seems everything else from gas to groceries is going the other way. So, every salesman at the lot looked at us like a fat commission check. As soon as our feet hit the pavement, we were greeted by a used-car salesman. No stereotypically greasy hair or bad Southern accent, but none-the less a man on a mission. Suit and tie. Big smile. Firm handshake. A nice guy.

But only because he had to be.

After the car buying process I realized that the salesman really only took interest in us because we were on his lot, looking at his cars, and he was hoping to make a deal. Then another thought struck me; This kind of thing happens all the time. Everywhere. The lady at Starbucks; she doesn’t care what my name is. She just has to write it on the cup. The checker at Ralph’s: he doesn’t care how my day is really going. He’s just asking so I’ll move up in line and let him run my Lucky Charms through the scanner.

Then, as if this was not enough thinking for one day, I thought: “Huh. Do I do this?”  Do I take interest in people only because of what I can get from them? Do I only talk to influential people because I’m networking? Do I only speak to my co-workers because I will eventually need their help? Do I say ‘hi’ to a girl only because she is cute? Do I only ask someone how their day was because I really just want to tell them how crappy my day was?

Or, do I really care about people. Do I look someone in the eye, and genuinely care if they are sad, or lonely, or sick, or well, or happy, or satisfied? Do I care about people because according to Jesus of Nazareth, I am to consider others’ concerns more important than my own? Or do I just want to get what I want. I’m afraid the answer is, more often than not, that I am a nice guy.

But only because I had to be.

And the question, “Do I do the same with God?” will just have to wait ‘til another day…when I’m not so afraid of the answer.

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2 thoughts on “Only Because I Have To Be?

  1. jotapê says:

    Excellent text! As usual.
    It is a very fine line also between “I’m nice to people because I want them to believe in Jesus and go to church” and “I really care about people”. When sharing Jesus, no matter how good are our intentions, we just sound like the used-car salesman.

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