Yeah, so the Bible tells us that we have 3 enemies: the world system, the flesh and the devil. I like to blame the devil for most of my shortcomings, although when I really think about it, many of my shortcomings are from the enemy called “my flesh”. That’s the “enemy” that arrives with us when we are born into this world that desires things that are opposite of what God wants for us. God says it like this:
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Galatians 5:17 ESV
Well yesterday I went into the post office to drop-off a prepaid package for delivery. When I noticed tape sitting on the “preparation” counter, I used it to more firmly secure the entry points of the package I was mailing and set it back down on the counter where I found it. Upon leaving one of the workers comes storming out into the parking lot shouting “ma’am, ma’am, you didn’t pay for the tape!” in front of other patrons that were walking into the post office.
“I thought the tape was free to use” I explain calmly (I had not taken the tape with me) “like when I go to the UPS store and they have it out as a ‘thank you for doing business here’ sort of gesture.” I’m speaking as I walk briskly to keep up with this woman. Once inside the building, I’m still talking calmly when she suddenly blurts out to the only other person standing in line in the post office and says:
“I can take you right here” and begins helping this other woman as if I wasn’t talking and was not even there. So now I find myself flagged down in the parking lot, accused of stealing tape, ignored, embarrassed, in line and my blood is beginning to boil! So what does yours truly do? Well, I’m sorry to have to admit the “fleshly” thing … I kept talking, only louder now! (My flesh had been quite easily offended and desired to be right about all things pertaining to this situation. It was not about the money, I felt it was about the “principle.” I believed they were being intentionally deceptive to patrons, NOTE: I was putting intention into a situation that I have no proof was ever there!).
“I think this is false advertising that you set out tape, and then expect me to buy it. You guys put this 1 role of tape over here on this counter with the other preparation material. This is about a principle, you set this up in a deceptive way…..(and I wish I could say I stopped, but
No-oooo, I continued on until she was finished with the woman in front of me. Yes, I continued to spew my opinion loudly, and I’m sure make everyone feel uncomfortable. I was THAT person!)
Then it was my turn and since I hadn’t stopped to take a breath I now stepped up to the counter and continued my “fit of flesh,” now in interrogation mode:
“This is wrong, you are being deceptive and now you are making me buy tape I don’t need because I thought that it was free for anyone to use. How did that tape even get there?”
“When I was re-stocking the shelves I must have accidentally left it there” she said.
“Did you accidentally rip off the 1/4”, perforated, huge cardboard price tag too? There is no price tag on this.” I pointed out.
“Well give me a Sharpie so I can write ‘Free to Use’ on both sides of this tape so the next person doesn’t get ripped off like I did.” I demanded. She handed me the Sharpie and I wrote that phrase on both sides of the tape’s plastic dispenser it was being held in. Before leaving I put the tape back where I found it on the “preparation” counter and quickly left the building, in fact so quickly that I never even stopped to get my change.
About 30 seconds after leaving, when I had finally stopped talking, I heard in my heart the familiar voice of the Holy Spirit say “was that really necessary to behave that way? You know you bear my name right?”
I was crushed. What felt necessary in the moment to defend myself and my integrity, now felt horrible. I knew what I had to do. I had to get my heart right with God, by asking for His forgiveness and then go back into that post office and ask for their forgiveness too.
Today I did just that. It was humbling to say the least, as I walked back in and saw the scared look on the woman’s face. Yeah, she was probably wondering why “angry lady” was back! However, the freedom that came and the peace that engulfed my Spirit when I asked for both workers’ forgiveness and admitted that I had acted in a rude manner yesterday was priceless! I pray now that whenever those workers see that tape with “free to use” written on the sides that it no longer reminds them of the “angry lady” but instead reminds them of a repentant heart.
Is there any person/people you need to ask for forgiveness in your life right now? Do it quickly!
“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13 NIV
Written by: Jamie Shaver