"Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven."
A few days ago, while driving down a residential street to my parents' house, a driver turned left out of one of the side streets right in front of me. My immediate reaction was to verbally question the driver's intelligence. Mine was obviously the only car on the road; they could have turned after I passed. And the driver had hesitated, waiting to turn until I was almost to them. As I hit my brakes and watched the car complete the turn, I recognized the person driving. I knew her. But I didn't just know her, I liked her.
Suddenly, instead of finding fault with the woman, I began to think up excuses for her, reasons she may have had for doing what she did. Maybe she just misjudged my speed or was in an extra hurry that morning and didn't take time to think about her actions. Whatever the cause of her untimely turn, I found that once I knew who she was, I wasn't irritated about what happened anymore.
And I wondered why. The reason couldn't merely be that I knew the driver. If I'd known her and disliked her, my dislike would have been strengthened by her action, not lessened. So the answer was that the woman was someone I liked and respected--the beginnings of charity.
Jesus has commanded us to love everyone, and I can honestly claim that I don't really hate anyone, but lack of hate doesn't qualify as love. If somehow I could really remember that every single person is a child of God, even the driver tailgating me as I go the speed limit, maybe I could do better at loving everyone, having charity.
What if I knew that that driver who seemed determined to attach their bumper to the back of my car had a child lying sick in the hospital and was desperate to get back to him? Maybe the person who practically stops to make a right hand turn has a car with untrustworthy brakes.
The next time a driver irks me, I will try to think of them as a child of God, with thoughts, feelings, worries and imperfections, just like me. Maybe then I can avoid judging. I'll take it one car at a time...