What do you think about most throughout the day? And how can we focus on the right things?
[Gary Petty] Have you ever been at a grocery store and you’re going up to the checkout counter, and you look and there’s 8 or 10 people in front of you, and you get in line and you’re immediately frustrated? Why do all these people have to be there? I have someplace to go. My time is important. And you’re looking at them and then you look one person has like 15 things in their cart, and it says “10 only.” Another person pulls out a checkbook, and you think checkbooks, who uses checkbook? Is this person like from the Stone Age, as they’re writing on the checkbook. And you get more and more and more resentful of these people because they’re keeping you from what’s important in life.
I recently read a book called “Leadership and Self-Deception.” And in this book, there’s a similar story. And this is a story I’ve actually done and so it had an impact on me. Have you ever been on an airplane and they announce that there’s not gonna be…you know, it’s not a full flight, there’s actually gonna be some empty seats. So you pick out the seat you want, you’re one of the first people on. And the seat next to you, you put something on it, your briefcase or whatever so that hopefully nobody will pick that seat. And then you pick up the magazine, and you’re sort of hiding behind the airplane magazine, you know, looking at people coming in hoping that nobody takes your seat. And you’re looking over and you’re judging every person you know, “Oh, man that person is sort of overweight, I hope they don’t take my seat,” my seat. Now you’re in your seat, but my seat. And you’re looking at everyone and you’re resenting everyone and you’re buried there hoping that nobody will see you. And then someone comes along and says, “Excuse me, can I sit there?” And you resent them. How dare you take my seat? It never was your seat. In fact, that person has just as much right to a seat as you do, they paid for their ticket, they’re on the same airplane. Just like the people in the grocery store, they have a right to buy their groceries there. They have a right to get in line just like you do.
See, here’s the problem, we tend to look at people as objects. And as objects, they are there either to supply our needs and desires or to stay out of our way of our needs and desires. “Oh, you’re keeping me from being happy.” And these are people we don’t even know. And we’re seeing them as objects, we’re not even considering that they are human beings, that they have needs and desires of their own, and that they have the same right as you do.
It’s interesting, Jesus said, to love your neighbor as yourself. In those moments, we’re really loving ourselves but we’re having no love at all towards our neighbor. We feel anger, we feel resentment, we feel like, boy, this person is hurting me. They’re not doing anything to us. This is important point, if we’re gonna really understand what Jesus meant to love your neighbor as yourself. It means that we’re gonna have to stop looking at people as simply objects to fulfill our desires and our needs, or that they’re objects keeping us from our desires and our needs. We’ll have to start seeing them as people. People who need respect as a person, as a potential child of God. Have you ever done that? I bet you have.
Next time you’re feeling resenting and no one’s really doing anything to you, but they’re somehow holding you back from what you want, maybe you’re driving in the car, happens every day, stop and think about it, am I really loving my neighbor as myself?
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