A Lesson from the Orange Peel

Several years ago the Reader’s Digest published an article written by a frustrated housewife. Her day was the worst possible, including a sick dog, a sink full of dishes, and a broken clothes dryer. With mounds of laundry waiting to be done, she draped the freshly-laundered clothes throughout the family room.

Shortly after arranging her husband’s various clothing items across the furniture, the doorbell rang. There, unannounced, stood her high school boyfriend and his perfectly stunning blond wife. She opened the door and led them through the family room with the laundry-covered couch, clumsily explaining about the broken dryer. As she tried to apologize and fix coffee, she spotted a “long, shriveled, dusty orange peel” curled up in the middle of the floor as if it had been there for weeks. The boyfriend and his wife watched as the frustrated housewife tried to slide it to one side with her foot. It stuck. She had to peel it off like adhesive tape.

The rest of the visit was a blur to her, and she was only too happy when the couple departed.

She cried as she related the story to her husband later that day. His words were slightly soothing, to say the least: “Well, honey, just think of how good you made them feel today. His wife knows you’re no threat, and he’s glad he never married you. Don’t think of your ego; think what you’re doing for their marriage.”[1]

When was the last time you made someone else feel good at your own expense? No matter how hard we try, it seems to go against our human nature, doesn’t it? But, we are called to serve; and if we are sincerely serving, others will be more gratified than we are. That’s exactly what Jesus modeled. He did nothing for His own benefit.

Who was satisfied after the He served bread and fish to the 5,000 after three straight days of ministry? When the blind men stopped Him in His tracks as they called out for healing, who received and who gave? Whose grief was relieved when Lazarus was raised from the dead? When Christ spent more than three years with twelve unlearned men, who benefited the most? When He laid down His life for mankind, who felt better?

Everything Jesus did was for someone else’s benefit. “The Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). Imagine a world where everyone puts everyone else first. To do that, we will need to show a little more orange peel and a little less self.

[1] From an article by Robin Worthington (Readers Digest, October, 1973) p. 77

[This post is an excerpt from Mary’s book Wait A Minute!]