Why people are more likely to defend their hamburger than another person

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People are nearly eight times more likely to stand up for their hamburger than the harassed stranger sitting at the table next to them. That’s according to a recent test from Burger King where the fast food giant used adolescent actors to stage a scene where a young man was bullied by a group of teens in one of their stores. At the same time, the cooks “bullied” a number of hamburgers before wrapping them up and delivering them to the same group of patrons.

Of those who received a smashed hamburger, 95 percent took it back and complained, often with great anger, about the state of their dinner. By comparison, a sparse 12 percent stepped in to intervene on behalf of the young man who was bullied, or even simply checked on him after the incident ended.

Perhaps the only thing more disheartening than the results of that survey is that it probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise. People have long preyed upon the weak around them, and history demonstrates that it’s relatively rare for people to step in when they don’t have a personal stake in the matter. Sadly, that’s often just as true for Christians as it is for everyone else.

To those whose lives are to be modeled after Christ, such a state of cowardice in the face of oppression, whether or not we are the ones being oppressed, should be just as repugnant as the sins of those perpetrating the heinous acts. Much of Jesus’ ministry was spent standing up for those his culture mistreated and showing mercy for the people who often knew little more than judgment. In one of Craig Denison’s First15 devotionals, he examined just such an example from the life of Christ.

In John 8:2–11, the religious leaders bring a woman caught in adultery before Jesus. They cited Moses’ command that a woman caught in adultery should be stoned and asked Jesus his opinion on the matter. It is a story I have read and studied before, but God opened my eyes to see it in a new light through the context of…

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