I work part time as a driving instructor. I am well versed on the rules of the road. I know exactly how other drivers are supposed to drive. In light of the general way people drive; this is a dilemma for someone trying to not be judgmental. Driving has become the proving grounds of my sinful nature. In-other-words while driving, I prove myself a sinner. I frequently blurt out expletives like jerk and idiot.
Monday I was driving to my house after a driving lesson. As all Americans seem to be, I was in a hurry. I came to an intersection where I was turning right. I stopped correctly behind the crosswalk before moving forward to make my right turn on red. However, the gentleman in the left turn lane stopped all the way across the crosswalk, blocking my view of the cross traffic. I was grateful that he slowed me down and made me wait for the light; not really. After my usual pronouncement of his lack of intelligence and moral character, I was struck by the thought, he’s my neighbor. I found myself changing from annoyance to compassion. I thank the Holy Spirit for the thought.
The rest of the journey home was occupied by thinking about “my neighbor”. Jesus made some clear statements about our neighbors such as: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19). Yep, I was falling painfully short of loving my neighbor. That afternoon, I started reading through the scriptures about my neighbor. In Luke 10: 29-37 Jesus responds to the question, “And who is my neighbor?” with the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritans were hated by the Jewish people of Jesus’ time. By using the Samaritan as the good guy of the story, Jesus nailed the prejudice of the time. Today, perhaps the story would be of the Good Muslim or in the Middle East, the Good Christian.
My conclusion, after my study, is that everybody I come into contact with is my neighbor. All the man in the left turn lane needed from me was patience and compassion. Everyone I meet needs at least that. A smile and an encouraging word would be nice, but they certainly don’t need my judgement. Every day I obviously fall short of perfection, but I have the Holy Spirit to reminding me of the words Jesus spoke. With his help I plan to be a better neighbor. If we should run into each other someday, just know I’d be delighted to be treated like your neighbor. I’ll try to respond with the same recognition. God bless you neighbors.
This has been a challenging week of trying to love my neighbor. I have been reminded of how desperately I need the salvation Jesus bought for me on the cross. Lord thank you for your mercy and grace, Amen.