We've all been there. Someone does something that annoys us. Maybe it slows us down and makes us late for work. Maybe it's road rage. Maybe they spray poison on the plants we just purchased and planted. Maybe they jump the line. Maybe they shovel their snow onto the road, and the plow comes through and piles their snow at the end of our driveway. Can't people be more considerate of each other? Wouldn't that make the world a so much better place?

I got annoyed the other day. The clutch in the rental car I was driving was going, and it was all we could do to start up, especially on a hill. And that was quite a problem, seeing as we were at the bottom of a steep, 6 km road, the only way back to the main highway. With lots of prayer, however, we were doing it. The engine was racing, I was riding the clutch, my son was "pushing" my seat from his position in the back, and my husband's knuckles were white, but we managed to slowly accelerate to the point where I was finally able to shift into second gear. That's when the pickup truck appeared in front of us...He was stopped, and I was forced to slam on the brakes to keep from rear-ending him. Naturally, we were still on a hill, and this time we almost didn't succeed in starting back up. But we made it, and just as I was finally shifting into second, the same pickup truck braked in front of us and it all started over again.

To say I was annoyed would be an understatement!

That's when a car came up behind me. He was obviously no pleased with my lack of accelerating power, and he let me know with a 60 second blast on his horn. I could do nothing. I couldn't even throw up my hands because I was too busy trying to coax the car forward. "I'm sorry, but I'm doing the best I can do!" I shouted. Not that he heard me; and even if he had, there would have been no way for him to know that there was a valid reason for my slowness...

Perhaps if he had known that my car was about to break down completely, he would have had a bit more patience with me...

As that pickup truck slowed down yet again in front of me, the thought occurred to me that maybe he also had a valid reason for his actions. There was no way for me to know; but perhaps my annoyance with him was as ill-founded as the annoyance of the driver behind me...

It all made me think. As a general rule, people don't go out of their way to annoy one another, and when they do, it's generally because there is something bothering them, something that there is no way for us to understand. Could it be that if we knew the whole story, all of our annoyances would be for naught?

Could it be that this is one reason the Bible tells us over and over again, "Judge not" (Luke 6:37)?

A very wise person once said, "Don't judge until you've walked a mile in his shoes." (Author: unknown)

Another wise person once said, "Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly." (Author: Moses – Lev. 19:15 NIV).

Yet another very wise person once said, "There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you--who are you to judge your neighbor?" (Author: James – Jam. 4:12 NIV)

And perhaps the wisest One of all once said, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Author: Jesus – Matt. 7:1-2 NIV)

Remember this the next time you are tempted to be annoyed at someone. Remember that perhaps you've never walked a mile in their shoes. Remember that we are called to judge fairly, something we cannot do unless we know where they are coming from. Remember that God is the judge, not us, and who are we to judge our neighbour? Remember that when we judge others unfairly, we will be judged in the same way.

But mostly remember that in order to be able to judge fairly, we need to know...the rest of the story, something that only God knows!

Oh, and the next time you're having clutch problems on a hill and someone comes up behind you heavy on the horn, why not cut them a little slack? After all, they truly don't know the rest of your story...

In His love,
Lyn



Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.