There is a phenomenon of social interaction known affectionately as “The Nashville Handshake.” It does not include a toothless grin, as some might perceive our southern stereotypical status, but rather a shifting of the eyes beyond the person you are greeting. It’s a casual glance to see if someone more important has entered the room…an effort to eye someone with celebrity status, power, prestige or possibly with potential career building capabilities.
It seems we weren’t the first to coin the concept.
Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes. And suppose a poor man in worn-out clothes also comes in. Would you show special attention to the one who is wearing fine clothes? Would you say, “Here’s a good seat for you”? Would you say to the poor person, “You stand there”? Or “Sit on the floor by my feet”? If you would, aren’t you treating some people better than others? Aren’t you like judges who have evil thoughts?
But you have put poor people down. Aren’t rich people taking advantage of you? Aren’t they dragging you into court? Aren’t they speaking evil things against the worthy name of Jesus? Remember, you belong to him.
I suspect there are endless examples of why treating people with favoritism can backfire on the most well-intentioned person. Three come quickly to my mind.
One happened several years ago when we became part of an “in group.” It consisted of popular, powerful and wealthy men and women in the process of working to build a new meaningful project. Okay, let me come totally clean. We weren’t completely “in” the “in group,” but we were welcomed on the periphery where many of the volunteers spent their time. We were comfortable there and had a seat up close to the sidelines when it came time to watch the show.
There were actually two groups. Group one consisted of the founder, leader and his administrative staff. Group two was a much larger body of overseers and their wives. I’m not sure who tried to impress who more. There was a lot of “Here’s a good seat for you” kind of stuff going on. Eventually the two groups imploded in a flash fire of self-importance and pride. I don’t think anyone was ever dragged into court but there were a few dragged through the mud. It didn’t matter which side you were watching, or whose version you were hearing, it was UGLY! People were hurt, property was lost, reputations were severely damaged and the house divided could not stand.
It’s been many years since then and from our current view, in the cheap seats, it doesn’t appear as if either side has ever really recovered.
The second situation was somewhat similar. But there were only two primary players. The leader and the nemisis, who wasn’t a celebrity but was married to one. We were way out of the loop, as were a lot of other people, until the walls inevitably came crumbling down. Then, there was an effort to garner support, and those on the outside were invited in. Pride and position, once again, proved to be powerful tools of division. The person sitting “in the front row seat” eventually won the war; the leader left and the doors closed. One side seems to have survived while the other still struggles to recover and begin again.
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.
The most recent example I have seen, happened in a family. A house of cards, with enough smoke and mirrors to look like The Lives of the Rich and Famous, prompted a few people to turn their heads and look that way. The favored were ushered in and given priority seating. But things are not always as they appear. When their silver spoon started to tarnish, they turned to bite the very hand that fed them. I’d like to say those of us who were watching were surprised, but…not so much. The Bible is right. Some people will accept your hospitality and then turn on you when things get tough.
If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else for each one should carry their own load.
I am not immune from name dropping and I have spent my share of time taking part in “The Nashville Handshake.” God has blessed me with many opportunities and I have met a few powerful people. I admit, there have been times when knowing the right person helped me get things done; but not one of those associations ever made me rich, famous or more important.
God is my provider. He alone is my refuge, an ever present help in trouble and a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
So, before I cast my eyes beyond the next person God places in my path… I pray that I always remember His words of wisdom:
Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.
Who has God placed in your path?
Do you see them, or are you looking past them?
James 2: 3-4, 6-7, 8-11 and Proverbs 4:25
© Copyright 2011, KeziahCarrie. All Rights Reserved