BOXES BIG AND SMALL.
Have you ever seen a set of nesting boxes? You know, you open a large box, and inside is a slightly smaller box, and inside that is an even smaller box, and so on. Sometimes as many as eight or ten boxes can be nested inside each other, each one smaller than the last.
Well, some people's lives are like that. For example, we all make friends from a larger group of people we know schoolmates, kids who live in our neighborhoods, people who go to our churches, and so on. For some of us, that's a pretty big "box" from which to choose our closest friends.
But some people narrow their choices. "Oh, I could never be friends with her," they might say. "She's weird." So their "box" of potential friends becomes smaller.
Some narrow their choices even more. "I can't sit at his lunch table," they say. "He lives in a trailer park!" And their "box" becomes smaller still.
Still others narrow their circle of friends even more. "You can hang out with him if you want," they say, "but I don't hang out with preps."
Others narrow their circle of friends according to skin color or school colors or fingernail colors. Some keep excluding people until their "box" seems impossibly small. I can't be seen with her, they may think. She's not one of the "popular" girls.
Sometimes when kids do that, they hurt the people they ignore or exclude. But when they act that way, they always cheat themselves.
After all, who knows-that "unpopular" girl may be the best friend a person could ever hope to have. That "prep" or "nerd" may be one of the funniest guys you've ever met, once you get to know him. The "poor" kid or the "dumb" kid may have been the kind of friend who would stay after school with you or teach you how to ride a Jet Ski or sit next to you on the school bus when no one else would.
Of course, you'll never know that unless you keep your "box" of potential friends as large as possible. The way to do that is to treat everyone with love not just the popular kids, or the rich kids, or the cool kids-but everyone. Because who knows they might just surprise you someday by becoming a really, really good friend.
REFLECT: How big is your "box" of potential friends? Have you made it smaller by excluding anyone? How can you keep your "box" of potential friends as large as possible? How can you start doing that today? (Be specific!)
ACT: Look for the smallest box you can find. Keep it someplace where it will remind you to treat everyone with love today and always.
PRAY: "Lord, help me to enlarge my 'box' of potential friendships. Give me the courage to love those I would normally ignore or exclude."