I couldn’t see who was driving the car. I did not know if it was a man or a woman, young or old. All I know now is that person was one of God’s creations and I was mistreating him in my heart.
Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.” And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39
A few years ago, in response to my desperate cry for help, the Lord gave me one word. Eighteen months later, I continued to work on that word, delighting in all the Lord taught me through it. I had grown fond of how the pursuit of an answer brought forth God’s Word in a new and wondrous way and how much closer I was to Him. I was not looking for anything on this particular day, but He gave me another word.
Yield was all I heard. I contemplated this for an entire year without taking it too seriously. Yield has more than one definition and I focused on being fruitful and productive for the Lord, ignoring the other meaning, to surrender or submit.
Eventually, God let me know I had not understood what He wanted me to learn. I was on my way to work through a neighborhood whose streets were always lined with cars. As I rounded a curve, I encountered a vehicle coming my way. One of us needed to yield to the other and pull over, as there was not enough room for both. When it became obvious this person was not going to move for me, I became agitated and angry. I did not want to submit. There would be a stand-off if I did not, as they had just run out of open curb space. Left with no other choice, I pulled over. While I was mumbling to myself about how disrespectful people can be and how tired I was with their rudeness, the word yield popped into my racing mind. Hit me with a brick! It was so obvious. I was not behaving like a Christian! Aren’t I supposed to love my neighbor as myself? I can still recall the feeling I had and the comment I made to Jesus after I calmed down. I repented and let Him know I got it.
God wanted me to yield to Him. By quietly, gently moving over so that car could pass, I would have been doing that. And truth be told, it took the tiniest bit of effort and added no time to my commute. Instead of seizing the moment to show kindness, I turned it into a battle and allowed my flesh to win, sinning in the process.
Galatians 5:13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. I was serving no one that morning, not myself, not the other driver, and certainly not God.
Well, as Jesus told us, this is the second most important command, to love our neighbor as ourselves. Not only are we to love, but He tells us in Matthew 25: 40 “The King will reply, truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” By treating that stranger the way I had, I was treating God with disrespect, anger and meanness.
James 3:17-18 “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” I was none of these attributes that day. I thank my Lord that He was so much more gracious to me than I was to a stranger. With nothing but gratitude for His mercy, I give God all the glory for so kindly setting me straight on what He wants me to learn about yielding.
I think of this day often as I drive that road every time I go to work. I say a prayer for that faceless, nameless driver, and I remind myself of the words of James 3:13 “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.” Through God’s grace and mercy, I have become wiser and more understanding. And with the help of the Holy Spirit, I will remember always to conduct myself in a manner that will glorify my Lord as He deserves.
Dear Lord, I pray we may treat every person we encounter as if they were You. We are all your creation and placed here by You for Your purpose. Please help us remember Your greatest commands and the words of James 3:17-18 as we conduct our lives. Thank You for the love and compassion You show us. All praise and glory to You alone for Your mercy which is new for us every day. As we go about our days may we remember to yield to your teaching and put ourselves aside so we may be a light to others, especially those who do not know you. Amen.