The Gift In A Plain Red Cup

I felt weary and frazzled as I sat in the parent’s lounge.  I was enjoying a quiet moment with no drama when a man entered the room.  He walked up to the vending machine and put his dollar in.  The vending machine didn’t like his dollar.  He put the dollar in again.  It spit it back out.  He put it in again.  It spit it back out.  Then he started yelling at the machine.  I jumped because it’s usually very quiet in the parent’s lounge.  I’ve never heard anyone yell at the vending machine before.  I wondered if he realized I was in the room.  Surely he wouldn’t be acting like that if he knew someone was watching him.  After numerous attempts the machine finally decided to accept his dollar and he left with his snack.  And I sat on the couch thinking about how I would’ve handled that cantankerous vending machine.  I would’ve tried twice and then given up.  I would’ve walked away thinking that it was God’s way of telling me that I didn’t need a Snickers.  I certainly wouldn’t have yelled at the machine.

Then I suddenly realized that I had just judged a man who I didn’t even know.  I had no idea what was going on in his life.  Maybe he hadn’t had anything to eat all day and he was famished.  And then when the machine kept spitting his dollar back it sent him over the edge.  Maybe his child had just been diagnosed with a condition and his nerves were on edge.  Maybe his wife left him that morning.  I don’t know his story and I never will.  But if he wanted to yell at the vending machine it was really none of my business.  The man left the room not knowing that I had judged him.  But I was still wrong for doing it.

We live in a world where people are constantly judging others.  We think we have the right to judge Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner and Josh Dugger for their choices.  We judge stay-at-home moms, working moms, moms who bottle-feed, moms who breastfeed, parents who homeschool, and parents who send their kids to public school.  People read facebook posts and blogs and they hide behind their computer screen and pass judgment on people they’ve never met.  They judge people for saying things that they never said.  There’s no end to the things that we judge others for.  And, of course, it’s important to judge a business for the cup that it chooses to serve its beverage in.


Oh, the plain red Starbucks cup.  It’s a huge deal, isn’t it?  The Starbucks Christmas cup controversy makes me want to sit in a corner and cry.  I want to cry because we live in a country where people make a big deal out of things that simply do not matter.  And as all of this coffee cup drama is unfolding here in America a child in a far off land wishes he had a cup of cold water to drink.  He’s drinking water that’s eventually going to kill him because it’s full of parasites.   All he needs is for someone to send $48 to help build a water well.  And then he and 9 other children would have clean water for the rest of their lives.  He would be thankful to have a cup.  Any cup.  And meanwhile here in America we’re so busy giving our opinion about the cup and judging Starbucks that we don’t even think about the needs of others.  God help us.

Matthew 22:37-39 says Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”   And that’s all we need to do.  We need to love God and love others.  We need to see people through God’s eyes and not judge them because of the choices they’ve made.  We need to take time to get to know people and their story.  And then we’ll understand why their choices are different from our choices.  If we’re busy loving people we simply won’t have time to judge them.

Perhaps we need to read Matthew 10:42.  And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.   And then we should go and give a cup of cold water in His name.  It would change a little boy’s life even if the water is in a plain red cup.

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