The Mississippi Baptist Foundation  |  est. 1943  |  Psalm 24:1
 
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EVEN A CHILD…

      Upon entering the veterinarian’s office recently, one of the ladies behind the counter asked “May I help you?” I responded that I had come to pick up Max Hall. Almost immediately the announcement was made over the intercom “I need Max Hall from B21.”      
      As I waited for my dog Max to be brought from his assigned kennel somewhere in the back of the vet’s office, another lady behind the counter asked me “Do you have a twin?” Because I have been told by total strangers on more than one occasion that I look familiar or remind them of someone as they try to recall where we may have met or how they might know me, I’ll often respond with something like “I’ve been in lots of movies. Perhaps you think I look familiar because you’ve seen me on the big screen.” This time, however, I simply responded jokingly with “Yes, I have lots of twins.”
      The lady who had asked me the initial question then asked “Did you used to live on Forest Avenue?” She had my attention at that point because I did, in fact, grow up on Forest Avenue. When she next asked if I had lived in a particular house I informed her that my house was next door to the one she had mentioned. We had played a lot of ball and other games in the front yard of my next door neighbor’s yard since their yard did not have trees and made for a better playground than my yard.     
      As we continued talking, this lady told me that she had lived up the street from me. She mentioned a few of her neighbors who were my neighbors also. She further explained that she had started first grade at a parochial school, had transferred to my school (located directly across the street from my house) in the second grade, and then had resumed her education at the parochial school in the third grade. In the midst of sharing all of that info with me (as I waited for my dog), this lady stated “We were in the 2nd grade together and I remember you!”
      Reflecting on that experience reminded me of the wisdom presented by the sage “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure and whether it be right” (Proverbs 20:11). In short, a person does not have to be very old to be “known” or Recognized. Recognized for what? Well, this verse indicates that one’s “doings” (actions or deeds) cause them to stand out in a crowd. While we may easily recognize the familiar face of a sports star, a Hollywood actor, or a politician, this scripture seems to point to one’s everyday actions and activities as leading to being recognized.     
      As he delivered the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declared “By their fruit you will know/recognize them” (Matthew 7:20). Although the context of this particular verse pointed to false prophets, the truth of Jesus’ statement is widely applicable. The adage “Actions speak louder than words” and “A picture paints a thousand words” may help highlight the manner with which actions cause you and me to be recognizable and stand out from those around us.
      Beyond being recognized by one’s actions, the thrust of this verse also seems to point to being Remembered through one’s actions or deeds. I would submit that the character of a person is assessed, measured, and remembered through their actions, attitudes, words, and deeds. Actions in the past, present, and future will be assessed and remembered “whether his work/conduct/behavior be pure whether it be right/upright.” Just prior to his concluding statement regarding false prophets recorded in Matthew 7:20 as noted above, Jesus offered “Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit…” (Matthew 7:17-18a). You and I will be remembered by the fruit that we bear.     
      Inasmuch as a person (whether a child or someone considerably older) is Recognized and Remembered for their “doings” and their “work,” then prayerfully you and I will be Respected due to actions, conduct, and behavior that is “pure” and “upright.” Therefore, personal ethics, honesty and integrity, and the quality and character of folks with whom we associate all play a role in determining and defining the respect that is received from others. Why? Because a bad tree cannot produce good fruit (Matt. 7:18b) and behavior that is not “pure and right” in God’s sight will not project a positive influence on others.
      As I left the vet’s office and headed home with Max, the words “I remember you” echoed in my mind. I first wondered “How did this lady remember me?” After all, I was in the 2nd grade about 52 years ago. Furthermore, I did not have gray hair or a beard as a second-grader. Additionally, I have never been very tall but I am confident that I am currently taller and larger than I was as a second-grader. And, on top of all of that, (1) I was wearing a mask when I entered the vet’s office and during our conversation because my vet “purr-furs” that masks be worn and (2) I had announced my dog’s name upon arrival but had not mentioned mine.     
      I then pondered “Why did she remember me?” followed by “What might I have done or what attitude did I project that caused her to recognize and remember me?” Finally, I considered whether or not my actions and behavior have proved worthy of respect from way back in the second grade until today. After all, “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure and whether it be right.”

 

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that throughout the course of my life, from beginning to end, that I will stand out from the crowd by being distinctly different from the culture. As such, may I be recognized as a your child, remembered for bearing good fruit, and respected in such a way that I can lead others to you through my actions, attitudes, words, and deeds. Amen.

                                                Daniel

 

P.S. I was really glad that I was wearing a mask because I am sure that my mouth was gaping and my expression likely would have confirmed that the hard drive of my memory could not produce any recollection of this lady…especially when she was a second-grader with long blonde hair over a half century ago.