Recently I had a new friend over to my house. In the course of our conversation, she asked for a cup of tea, which I gladly moved into the kitchen to make. We chatted as I grabbed a mug from the cabinet, moved to the pot and brewed the cuppa and then, moving back towards the living room I passed her drink to her–in a disgustingly adorable fuzzy kitten mug.*
Now, hear me. I do not detest cats. I like this mug fine, which is why it is still around. It has a nice heft and hand feel. However, it is not my best mug. It’s not even my second, or third best mug. It’s one of the “reserve” mugs, one of the mugs that gets used when all other mugs are in the dishwasher, or when I’m chopping a lot of items for a recipe and need a handy container. This is a junior varsity mug we’re talking about.
Why had I given my new friend this mug? I had a shelf full of my very best mugs, hand-thrown pottery, beautiful, comfortable, and above all hospitable mugs.
I can only say that I discovered a smallness inside me that day that I attribute to sin.
Why hadn’t I given my new friend one of the GOOD mugs? I just didn’t want to share. I wanted my favorite mug for my morning coffee, so there was that pettiness there. But I have a sneaking suspicion there was a part of me that didn’t think she was good enough to warrant having a good mug.
That is a difficult thing to realize about yourself. It is petty, it is small, it is stupid, it is at the root of every kind of bigotry and pride and we all have it.
What am I to do? First, I confess and repent: Lord, have mercy! This isn’t who I want to be and this is just so stupid a sin! Forgive my smallness, my greedy hoarding.
Second: I will be vigilant. Now I know that hanging on to my best mugs is a trigger for sin in me. In the future, I will give all of my guests over age 12 one of our good mugs and pay attention to how I feel about it. If I’m stilling feeling small, I will confess it as soon as I recognize it.
Third: I will let the grace flow. Praise God everyone we meet does not have to know what is going on in our heads! This grace alone makes it easier for us to all rub along together, to learn to like each other and then to act in love to one another. I doubt if my new friend even noticed the low-grade mug. I am thankful in the midst of my sin, I was still able to offer her hospitality. The Lord forgives me, and I forgive myself thanks to grace.
Lord, forgive the pride that exists in me. Replace it with humility. Help me to honor each person I come into contact with and remember that they too are your child and share with them the good gifts that you have given me. Amen.* The mug and circumstances were changed to protect the innocent and my own sense of embarassment.