This is an excerpt from Blooming, This Pilgrim's Progress
One gusty, grey, garbage-day morning while waiting patiently in the van in the driveway for Angela and Allison so I could drive them to school, I noticed some of the garbage from the townhouses across the road had blown into the middle of the intersection next to our home.
I had an urge to run out and pick up this garbage, but I noticed a garbage man in a reflector vest pacing on the other side of the road apparently waiting for traffic to subside so he could do it.
Then I realized he didn’t intend to pick up the garbage; he was merely watching it. Now why would that be? Maybe the garbage people were fed up with the way garbage was always allowed to blow around. Maybe this was evidence for a supervisor to behold.
On the drive to the girls’ school and home again, I pondered the garbage situation. I came to the conclusion that the only neighbourly thing to do would be to pick up that garbage myself.
Sure enough when I came back to the intersection, the garbage was still in the middle of the road, but now a garbage truck was parked right beside it—and not a garbage man in sight. There was hardly room for my vehicle to drive by.
I parked the van, then marched into the intersection where I picked up a Tide box and a much larger box. For boxes that had blown out onto the road, they were surprisingly heavy. In fact, I noticed they were packed with garbage, but I doggedly carried them to the sidewalk.
“Ma’am, ma’am. What are you doing?” I heard as I heaved the Tide box onto the garbage pile in front of the townhouses where I was sure it had come from. I was about to drag the larger box over as well.
“I’m cleaning up,” I proclaimed indignantly. “There is no reason to keep garbage in the middle of the road.”
“Yes, there is, ma’am,” he explained patiently. “We spilled hydraulic fluid here. Our line sprang a leak. If a car drives over that it could cause a serious accident.”
“Oh sorry,” I mumbled as I dropped the big heavy make-shift pylon back onto the road. For the first time I noticed the slippery oily fluid all over my hands.
When I got home I had to scrub my hands and wash both my coat and pants.
Moral of the story: don’t be too quick to judge other people’s garbage.
How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:4)
How often do we as good Christian citizens judge and try to clean up someone else’s garbage? What we judge as garbage may really be pylons. Wouldn’t it be better to come alongside? Be a friend. Listen. Find out what’s really needed. Offer to be available. That way we’re less likely to end up with oily goo all over ourselves.