Rabid Fun

John Cowart's Daily Journal: A befuddled ordinary Christian looks for spiritual realities in day to day living.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

They Are Sorry Rascals! … But I Have An Excuse!

Today’s post rants philosophically against my garbage men.

Yes, Friday they collected our yard trash.

City law mandates that a yellow light flash on top of the truck to warn passersby that jerks roam our streets scattering more trash than they collect.

All the garbage men have to do is dump the cans into the maw and put the can back where they picked it up from. Then the job gets complicated; they have to punch a button and the hydraulic jaws compress the trash.

But, can these guys do all that?


Some people are just too sorry to be garbage men.

Yesterday, they managed to dump the cans and press the button, but putting the cans back at the curb proved beyond their level of skill.

Instead, they threw the cans into the middle of our driveway blocking in our car so I had to traipse out barefoot to move the cans out of the drive before Ginny could leave for work.

I grumbled mightily, accusing them about their slovenly, sorry, low-down, conniving, degraded, uncouth, degenerate, highly over-paid, work habits.

That’s when the Holy Spirit of God chose to remind me of a Bible verse.

He does that you know.

He picks times I’m peeved to remind me of times when I have not been the peevee but the peever — of times when I did the same thing I’m griping about to someone else. And He usually does this via some half-remembered Scripture passage.

He picked a dozy for me this morning:

“Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doeth the same things!”

So as I bitched about the garbage men, I was reminded of times when my own work has been slipshod and slovenly, when I cut corners, when I made life a little bit harder for somebody else than it needed to be.

Not a pretty picture.

But wait! I have an excuse!

In fact I have a whole bundle of excuses:

That job didn’t pay me what I was worth! That boss was unreasonable. The other guys on the job did it the same way. I had a headache. They were rushing me…

Now, here is an interesting fact:

When we accuse somebody of something, we acknowledge the existence of a natural moral law. And while local custom and culture varies as to detail, natural law is universal.

For instance everywhere on earth deeds of bravery are praised while deeds of cowardice are condemned. A loyal person is highly regarded while a betrayer of friends or family is regarded as contemptible. Nobody no where loves a hypocrite.

You don’t have to read a Bible to acknowledge the existence of such standards, everyone everywhere has a highly developed sense of “ought”.

“They ought not to invade,” we say.

“She ought to control her kids,” we say.

“He ought not to break in line ahead of me,” we say.

“They ought not to put the garbage cans in the middle of the drive,” we say.

We accuse them because they have not met some standard, transgressed some law, broken some rule — which makes them Bad People.

On the flip side, every time we offer an excuse, we are also acknowledging the existence of some recognized natural law written within our hearts. We acknowledge it exists, but we offer good reasons why it applies to other people, but not to ourselves.

“My wife doesn’t understand me,” we say.

“She deserved it,” we say.

“They’ll never miss it,” we say.

“The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” we say.

With every excuse, we acknowledge that a law exists and that we have broken it, but we don’t want to be held accountable.

We want wiggle room.

Even godless nations do this:

“That land belongs to us because our people used to live there before these new comers settled,” they say.

“The treaty is invalid because the previous regime signed it,” they say.

“Yes, we said we wouldn’t but now we need atomic bombs to defend ourselves,” they say.

“Dumb A-rabs were cooking their supper over fires of dried camel dung before we showed ‘em what oil was for,” they say.

So we accuse others.

We excuse and justify ourselves.

And God sees through all our smoke and mirrors.

St. Paul said of the Gentiles, “(They) shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another; in the day when God shall judge the secretes of men by Jesus Christ…”

Jesus Himself worded that same thing even stronger, “Judge not that ye be not judged. For with the same judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again”.

Then He went on to talk about the speck in my brother’s eye and the splinter in mine.

By His standards, I am too sorry to be a garbage man.

You suppose that sort of thing is why we need a Savior?

So, with these thoughts in mind yesterday morning, I quit complaining about the garbage men and walked out to the end of the drive, picked up the empty cans, and put them back over the fence…

But, that didn’t stop me from blogging about it today — Did it?

But, wait a second.

Here’s a thought:

Going back to that measure for measure thing…

Do you suppose that somewhere out there in the blogosphere, my garbage man is posting a rant on his blog about this fussy, prissy customer on his route who wants things done just so?

If you’re out there, Buddy, may God have mercy on us both.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:19 AM


At 5:48 PM, Blogger jellyhead said...

I loved reading this. You really do motivate me to be a better person.

Thank you.

At 10:22 AM, Blogger Kezzie said...

Yeh, it's very hard sometimes to not let our own consideration of wrongdoing being done to us to just leap out of our mouth. But Jesus has taught us a better way- and that means loving our neighbour! Thanks for reminding me of that, and having the honesty to blog about your reaction and then letting the Holy Spirit stop you! I hope the garbage man did read this!


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