Some time ago, an acquaintance of mine and his wife went to a restaurant. Their server that evening was a woman who was apparently not having a good day. She was far from being the fun, outgoing server common in many restaurants today. Her eyes showed sadness, even anger. Her demeanor was unpleasant, and her talk was curt and to the point. She said very little outside of the essential questions that were necessary for taking their order. The couple ordered their dinner and the server abruptly turned and left.
As soon as the server left their table, my friends decided they were going to endeavor to change her attitude—to redeem her, at least for the moment. So when she returned, they were laughing and they managed to include her in their conversation. They drew her in and talked with her, not just about themselves but also about her. They smiled and laughed and asked her questions. Soon she opened up and responded.
It wasn’t long before she confided about some recent events in her life that had caused her to become distraught. As she talked, she became far more congenial. In fact, she ended up giving them far better service than is customary in most restaurants—larger portions, free drink refills, and very attentive care. She even sat with them, invited, of course, for a few moments at the end of their meal. When the couple stood to leave, the server hugged the woman and thanked them both profusely.
It would have been easy, perhaps even normal, for this couple to ignore the woman, or, worse yet, to treat her just as she was treating them, even leaving a minuscule tip at the end of the meal to make a point. Instead they chose to respond in a very different manner. They acted like Jesus in that situation. Instead of lambasting her, they cared for her. Their obvious care made a tangible change in her.
This couple didn’t cast stones. They reached out in love. Jesus said it like this, “Love your enemies, do good to them… Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:35‑36).