Saturday, August 05, 2017
Shopping Cart Bible Lesson
If you’ve followed me on Facebook for any length of time, you may have seen me posting pictures from time to time of the carnage left in the wake of the marauding band of “cart pigs” that struck the local WalMart, grocery store, etc. The other day I was confronted with no less than a dozen shopping carts in the one row of the parking lot. Ironically, they were all abandoned and strewn about within just a few feet of a cart corral.
When I made that post, one of my Facebook “friends,” Mr. Chris LaRue, commented (on my Facebook wall) that I was a “lame-ass white guy” (sic) for caring about this. (For the record, Mr. LaRue shares my Caucasian heritage.) My wife and even some of my friends asked me who this was that would say something so mean about me. Rather than act hurt or offended, I just said he might be one of those Christ-followers who leans on his own understanding of this issue.
Love Your NeighborGod said, way back in Leviticus 19:18, that we to love others as we ourselves would like to be loved. Jesus said it again in Matthew 19:19 & 22:39, Mark 12:31, and Luke 10:27. The Apostle Paul reminded us of this command from God, in Romans 13:9 & Galatians 5:14. Even Jesus’ (half) brother James brought it up (James 2:8). So it seems like one of the most well established Biblical principles that there are. Surely no one who would claim to be a Christian would question this. We are to love others as we ourselves would like to be loved.
Blessing of Shopping CartsSo what is the practical application of that Biblical principle? How on earth could it apply to shopping carts at the local WalMart? It’s simple really. Think about the owners and employees of the store. They’re offering you the use of a shopping cart, free of charge. And they’ve made a parking place for those carts in the front of the store. Many of the larger ones have even provided cart corrals in the parking lot – so that you don’t have to walk all the way back into the store to return it.
It’s obvious, from the provisions that they’ve made, that the owners and employees of the store expect you to return the shopping cart. And they would appreciate if you did. If you were an owner of the store, you would appreciate it if your customers did. If you were an employee of the store, you would appreciate it if the customers did.
Costs of Cart PigsWhen customers do not return shopping carts to designated space in front of the store or one of the convenient cart corrals throughout the parking lot, several things happen:
1. They often take up parking spaces where someone might like to park their car.
2. If they’re not taking up parking spaces, they’re probably parked on the grass or in planter – ruining the landscaping that the store owners paid for (so you could have an attractive store to use).
3. The carts in this picture were abandoned – and blocking – a special walkway that had been provided for the handicapped parking spaces. How would you like to maneuver your wheel chair through this mess?
4. Sometimes the carts roll off and scratch or even dent other peoples’ cars. And it’s not just the cars that can be damaged. Shopping carts themselves can be damaged or even ruined altogether.
5. The carts are not in the front of the store of other shoppers, thereby forcing them to make a trip back out to the parking lot to get one. (This has actually happened to me!)
6. At a minimum, the store owners must pay someone to rove around the parking lot gathering up all the abandoned shopping carts and returning them to the front of the store for other shoppers to use.
Shopping carts are expensive. Damage to shopping carts is expensive. Scratches and dents on peoples’ cars are expensive. Labor is expensive. So the store owners would appreciate it if you would return the shopping carts. And even if the labor is paid, no retail worker enjoy having to schlep around a parking lot in the heat, cold, rain, or snow to gather up the shopping carts from all over the parking lot. So the employees would appreciate it if you would return them.
Biblical CommandSo like I said, it seems like a simple concept. If I were a store owner, I would like the shopping carts to be returned. If I were a store employee, I would like the shopping carts returned. If I were a store shopper, I would like the carts returned. This is how I would like to be treated. So God Himself says this is how I should treat others. In a sense, there’s a implied Biblical command here, “Thou shalt return thy shopping cart – because it is how thou would like to be treated thyself.”
Shopping Carts Identify Your CharacterBlogger Craig Dacy (http://www.craigdacy.com/) has written about this. He says there are two different kinds of people in this world: cart returners and cart deserters. And he explains how either one of these definitions reveals so much about our character. Here are some excerpts from one of his blog posts that really say it better than I could myself.
Cart Returners Put Others FirstThere are hundreds of excuses for someone to leave their cart propped up on a grassy median or left between parking spaces. Maybe they’re in a hurry or it’s raining. … Whatever the reason is, there is one thing all of these excuses have in common; it’s all about them.
When you take the time to return your cart …, you’re showing that you care about the employees of the grocery store. You acknowledge that if you don’t put the cart away, someone else will have to do it for you. Basically it shows that you’re not a selfish person.
Why not take it a step further? If you see a disabled person with a cart, offer to return it for them. It's all about helping our neighbor.
Successful people put others first. Instead of being wrapped up in things that benefit them, they look for ways to help and serve those around them.
Cart Returners Are DisciplinedWe’ve all been tempted to turn to the dark side, right? Your child is screaming and the nearest cart receptacle is 10 parking spaces away. Can’t I leave the cart here just this once?
These are the moments that define us. Will you stand strong or break to temptation? Look on the bright side; that screaming child ensures that everyone will look and see you doing the right thing!
Walking the 10 spaces shows you’re disciplined. You’ve committed yourself to a moral standard that you won’t break. Discipline is an attractive quality in people.
Cart Returners Are Happier PeopleI know I’ve addressed it already, but I’ll say it again. Cart returning shows you're not selfish. Which is good because selfish people aren’t happy.
Giving to others brings happiness into our lives. Whether it’s a big or small gesture, they can make a lasting impact. Focusing only on ourselves gives us a negative outlook on life. We tend to only think about the things we don’t have, the things we want, or the things others have that we wish we had. None of these bring on a spirit of gratitude or contentment.
At the end of the day, the only person you can control is you. As infuriating as it is to see a front row parking space blocked by a deserted cart, take comfort in knowing that you still have the upper hand.
To all my cart deserters out there; it’s never too late to make a change. Cart returners are very forgiving and will welcome you to our side with open arms!
Finally, to all my cart returners; there is one last glimmer of hope for you. While the walk to the receptacle may be treacherous, the walk back to your car can be empowering. You did the right thing. Hold your head up high, pump your fist in the air, and consider that walk as your victory lap.
Christ-Followers Return Shopping CartsYou had to know where this was going. So let me just finish this post by telling you that it is a sin to abandon your shopping cart just anywhere. My blogging friend Craig Dacy allows that there may be exceptions for people with handicaps, etc. However, I’m not even going to give you that. If you had the ability to take the shopping cart and use it, you have the ability to return it. God said we are to do unto others as we would like them to do unto us. To do otherwise is sin. It is that simple.
If you owned the store, worked at the store, or shopped at the store and wanted a shopping cart, you would want the carts put where they belong. So do that yourself. Don’t be a cart pig! Instead, honor the Lord your God, Christ Jesus, by returning your shopping cart. It's what Jesus Himself would do.