“Hi! How are you doing?” The greeting, or one similar to it, is what we often give when we encounter people. We all know it’s a normal way of acknowledging another person’s presence, so no one takes it too seriously, giving any kind of an extended answer. In other words, the other person usually won’t start pouring out their heart to the person offering the greeting. The response is usually something to the effect of “Fine” or “Okay” even if life is far from fine or okay.
We encounter people every day in passing and can’t get into an in-depth time of sharing with each one of them – we’d never get through what’s on our schedule for the day. But could we do a little better at treating people as human beings when we meet them in casual encounters?
I was prompted to think about how I treat people whom I casually meet after reading an article by Douglas Groothuis in Christianity Today magazine titled, “Learning to Say Hello Again.” He concludes his article by stating, “It seems like a small thing, but it really isn’t. How we greet—or fail to greet—others says much about our character. But in the power of the Holy Spirit, we may practice the presence of people by acknowledging and recognizing them for who they are: creatures made in God’s image.
Every person we meet has been made in the image of God; each has an eternal destiny. Groothuis quotes C. S Lewis in The Weight of Glory, “You have never talked to a mere mortal.” How will we treat these beloved creatures of God, made in His image and whom He loves, even in casual encounters?
It’s so easy to treat a cashier in a store or a server in a restaurant as if they’re nothing more than a means to an end, somebody we have to deal with to buy our item or to get our food. Each such person likely has a family for whom they have concerns or with whom they struggle. They may also be dealing with financial concerns or health issues. God has placed us, for the moment, in their world, and we can make a difference, however small it may seem!
Eye contact, a smile, using the person’s name, and an appropriate word of affirmation or praise are just a few of the ways we can make even brief encounters with people something special. Beautiful greetings are just one way to make a day more beautiful, for everyone!
“And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” Matthew 5:47