The two boys walked lackadaisically across the street. I waited in my car. Watching them. They both looked unaffected by the fact that a 4500 pound piece of metal on wheels could be used as a weapon with the wrong driver. They looked unaffected by much of anything, actually. I suppose that no one ever told these boys that jay-walking is illegal (in other words: wrong). I guess no one had told these boys that walking slowly and lazily across an intersection- even at a crosswalk- is not only selfish and unkind to the motorists waiting for you, but perhaps a little dangerous, as well. From all appearances, these boys did not feel any responsibility to walk faster. In fact, I am quite certain they were completely wrapped up in their own world and cared about no one but themselves.
I can’t help but contrast these boys to the heroic video showed last night in honor of the tenth anniversary of 9-11. The day that is forever etched in many of our minds. Hundreds of human beings stepped way outside of their selfish box. They stepped up to meet the needs of people they did not even know. For hours. And then for days. They searched and dug by bucketfuls through the dust and the rubble. Looking for both the living and the dead. One firemen talked about his dread of doing that work each morning. But he did it. Because it was what he had to do. Often, character and strength will show up in situations like that. Adrenalin moves in and humans do what needs to be done. It is what a hero is made of. I believe I know many heroes. Men and women who would not hesitate to do what’s right in the midst of a crisis. And I am thankful and proud to know them.
But, let’s face it–it is the daily grind where our real character shines through. It is our daily decisions that show who we really are. Our lives are not shaped by a heroic moment or two. They are shaped by each and every decision. It is so very difficult to do the right thing when there is no one watching. It is difficult to do the right thing when the decision (we believe) will affect no one but us. It is difficult to make the right choice when our parents or our spouse or even our children aren’t there to question us.
Whether it is something as small as lazily walking across the road and forcing people to wait for you or as big as landing in prison for selling drugs, they both show a selfish character. A character that says “I am going to do what I want!”, without care for anyone else. Most of us stay within the “acceptable” social guidelines of selfish. There are hundreds of different, very socially, acceptable ways to be selfish in this culture. But it is still selfish. No matter what the culture says.
As you walk through your day, think about each decision you make…and why you are making that decision. Let’s examine ourselves today. Let’s live beyond the status quo.
2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.
P.S. God just showed me…like, literally right now, just how selfish I am. As I poured a cup of coffee and had a conversation with my daughter, it quickly turned into a mild argument…because I was being selfish. I may not like this “examine yourself” stuff!