Then I got thinking of the times that I make up wild scenarios and feel good about what a gracious person I am. How that lady with the coupon's husband lost his job and has been searching for a new one for 3 years. How the guy who passed me doing 80 in a 50 zone is racing to the hospital after finding out one of his family members was in a horrible accident. The customer who was rude to me on the phone is having a terrible day. The person driving me crazy on Facebook is lonely or depressed.
But what if they're none of those things? What if they're just your average mom, a dude who is speeding, an upset customer, has too much time on their hands...or me, just a lady looking for a quarter?
If their scenario is more everyday than elaborate, does that make them more deserving of my eye rolls or passive aggression? Does it make them less worthy of my helping hand, patience or kindness?
See, I've been seeing a lot of videos and blog posts lately about how you never know what kind of battle people are fighting and you need to treat them with respect and kindness, grace and mercy because of that. And that's true, I don't know what battles the people around me are fighting. But that's not the reason to treat others with respect, kindness, grace and mercy.
Jesus gave us what has come to be known as "The Golden Rule", Matthew 7:12, "So in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you." It's not about fantasizing or romanticizing the other person's situation. In the long run, that is self-serving. Your made-up story about the other person only demotes them to be less than you and makes you into a hero in your own mind.
Back up a few verses before the Golden Rule (that's always a good thing to do).
The passage begins with the familiar analogy of the plank:
Matthew 7:1-5: "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Doing unto others starts with a look at yourself and then a look across at them--as an equal--not a look down at them. How would I want to be treated if I were in their shoes? Their missing quarter shoes, not their poisonous spider shoes.
So be kind today. Because it's the right thing to do.
And by the way...I never did find that quarter.