The other day, I was just minding my own business, trying to get to work, when a woman in a black Lexus brought out the worst in me.
I was trying to park in a garage in downtown Washington, D.C., which is a challenge. I have little time to get to the garage after dropping off my daughter at school, and if I'm a minute late, the price goes up from $14 to $21. Time is of the essence.
Once you get to the garage, it doesn't matter which side of the street you're on, you have to wait your turn to get in. Everybody understands that — everybody but the lady in the black Lexus, apparently.
I was patiently waiting my turn when she drove up, ignored everyone in line, and zipped right up to Tony, the friendly security guard, who checked her ID and let her go. That surprised me because he normally doesn't allow cutting in line.
When I drove up, Tony looked at me with a defeated expression and said, "Bro, she's been doing that for years. There's no use in trying to stop her. She won't listen."
Her sense of entitlement made me angry, and as I pulled up behind her, I imagined how great it would feel to ram into the back of her car. There's no way I would do that, but something more tempting was the thought of seeing her in the garage and saying something like, "You know, I can't imagine what a nightmare it would be to be married to you." Ouch.
As I parked my car, the Holy Spirit pricked my conscience and showed me something: By reacting to the woman in the Lexus, I had actually become like her — maybe even worse.
As the old British preacher Oswald Chambers once said,
"If I see the little speck in your eye, it means that I have a plank of timber in my own (see Matthew 7:3-5). Every wrong thing that I see in you, God finds in me. Every time I judge, I condemn myself (see Romans 2:17-24). Stop having a measuring stick for other people. There is always at least one more fact, which we know nothing about, in every person’s situation."
Maybe that woman rushes into the garage because she's got chronic digestive issues and needs to get to the bathroom, or maybe she's just rude. Either way, the thing I need to pay attention to isn't so much what she's doing, but a bigger problem for me: how eager I am to assess, dissect, and put people like her in their place.
People like that woman are actually a blessing to me. Their ability to provoke me to imagine things like ramming into the back of her car or telling her off is like an X-ray into my soul. It's opportunity for the Holy Spirit to say, "Hey, in case you haven't noticed, you've got issues with pride, resentment, and unforgiveness. I've allowed this person in your life to bring those things out so you'll realize how badly you still need to learn from Me every day."
Let's rejoice when we get unpleasantly blessed by people like the lady in the black Lexus. They've been sent to reveal, for better or worse, what's really going on inside of us. And regardless of whether those people ever change, Jesus can use them to bring changes in us that might never have happened otherwise.