My wife asked me to take her to a produce stand here in Sebring yesterday. So, I did. It was a neat little place in the parking lot of the mall. A nice, old couple was running it. They had plenty of fruits and vegetables for sale, and my wife was enthusiastically picking out the items she wanted.
But my eyes were hung up on a sign they had hanging over the produce. It was simple and powerful. The sign read, "If you're satisfied, tell everyone. If you're not, tell us."
The meaning of the sign is pretty obvious: If you like your experience at their place of business, please tell everyone. If you are not pleased with your experience, please just quietly tell the workers what is wrong so they can fix it. In other words, please do not bash them publicly in the community.
The plea of the produce stand is actually a great reminder for all of us to be careful with our mouths.
Sometimes in life, someone is going to disappoint us and let us down. When that happens, we have an important decision to make: Either we can go to that person and discuss it privately for some sort of resolution, or we can go around bad-mouthing that person to anyone who will listen to us.
What is the best thing to do?
Well, Jesus once said "If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you." (Matthew 18:15) That was a call for a private, one-on-one discussion between the person who was offended or concerned and the person who appeared to have done wrong. Jesus was saying that problems between two people or parties should be discussed and corrected in private if at all possible.
The plea of the produce stand is perfectly in line with the words of Jesus.
When people let us down, let's handle it privately and discretely. Let's deal with it behind closed doors and try to resolve it peacefully with whoever did us wrong. And let's not run therm down with our mouths to other people. Talking trash about other people only makes the problem worse and actually makes us look pretty small too.
May we remember this lesson today and handle our concerns privately. When we do this, problems are more likely to be fixed, reputations are more likely to be protected, and relationships are more likely to be repaired. When this happens, everybody wins.