People’s Potential 



Years ago I knew a man who made his living on dumpster diving. During the day, and often at night, he would drive around looking in dumpsters for things people had thrown away. He would then take them home, repair them, refinish them, and then sell them. He had an eye for breathing life into things that had been discarded, and he wasn’t too proud to go into dumpsters to get those things.

He reminded me of the gardener that Jesus told a parable about in Luke 13:6-9. The master had purchased a fig tree, and year after year, he had come to it to get figs. After a few years, he became upset. He told the gardener to chop it down because it was a waste of soil space. But the gardener replied, “Leave it alone, sir, just one more year; I will dig around it and put in some fertilizer. Then if the tree bears figs next year, so much the better; if not, then you can have it cut down’” (GNT).

Out the gardener and my friend had an ability to see potential where others saw none. They both understood that it would take work to bring about restoration, but they were both willing to do it. It makes me question how I see people. Am I like the gardener or the master? Am I looking for the potential in others, or my self? Or am I quick to discard them as useless? I think if we truly looked in the mirror, most of us are like the master, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

When I was a kid there was a song about an auction. At this auction the auctioneer held up on old, dusty broken looking violin. He asked who would give him a dollar for it. Then a man walked up, dusted it off, tuned it, and began to play. When he finished playing, the auction asked, “One give me one thousand. Who’ll make it two?” The people asked what made the change, and he answered, “It was the tough of the master’s hand.” There’s no one that God can’t touch, repair, use and increase their value to others. 

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