Friday, July 13, 2012

Be Nice to Your Sister

            I’ve told you this story before. One summer day the heat neared 100 degrees, and my car battery refused to start the engine. In a very crowded shopping strip with cars jammed together like sliced bread, I phoned two males in my family for advice.

            Both out of town, one advised bumping the battery cables to see if they were loose. The other advised calling a wrecker. Since battery CPR did no good, I phoned a wrecker.

            The sun beat down. Sweat beaded. With the car hood popped open, I avoided eye contact. I didn’t want anyone to think they had to stop and help in that heat. High humidity moistened my clothes, but unfortunately it didn’t moisten my throat.

            I waited in store-awning shade and watched shoppers jockeying for close-to-the-store parking spaces. My car was only three spaces from the sidewalk. Heat waves shimmered above the pavement. The car next to mine backed out, so I ran and stood in the vacant spot so the wrecker could conveniently pull alongside and use jumper cables.

            However, he was another six minutes arriving. Thirst mounted. Perspiration trickled. Where is the ozone layer when you need it? I hoisted my black umbrella over my head and politely turned away shoppers who tried to swing into the close-to-the store-vacant spot. Actually, these were your cousins and mine. I read that all humans are kin by no more than a 50th cousin relationship. 

            At least 20 cousins drove by looking for that illusive close parking. Nineteen were polite, courteous, and conversational, even asking if help was on the way. Thank you to all those 30th and 40th considerate cousins.

            Then the exception to the rule rolled up. One person forgot her manners, pounded on her steering wheel, shook her head and fist and mouthed angry words from behind her rolled up windows in her air conditioned car. 

            Those nineteen people who gave warm smiles equaled nineteen cups of cold water to me. James, a follower of Jesus, wrote, “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right” (2:8).

            When any of us come upon someone experiencing trouble, we can add insult to injury or we can alleviate suffering. A smile or a kindness can turn misery into bearable. I shopped in Montgomery’s Wal-Mart grocery department before Independence Day. Even the wide aisles were crowded. After rolling down a few aisles, I began to notice how patient and kind the shoppers were to each other. It was an outbreak of contagious good manners. I smiled the rest of my shopping trip, each time someone said, “Pardon me,” or “Excuse me.”

            Statisticians say we’re all cousins. God narrows the family kinships down to brothers and sisters because he calls us children. If someone needs help this steamy summer, put on the cloak of humility as you recall your past similar circumstances. Remember what your mother told you: 

            “Be nice to your sister.”

            “Be nice to your brother.”

            Hunger for Humility (28): “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? (James2:16-17).


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