Rules vs. Relationships

"Can you do me a favor?" came the question as I opened the door to my neighbor.

"It depends..." I mean, does anyone automatically say 'yes' to such an open-ended question?

"Could you give me a ride to the store?"

A few weeks ago it was a ride to work. The day before that, she came over because there was a "domestic disturbance" at her house and she wanted me to get her keys. It turns out she'd been drinking and her family wouldn't give her the keys (there's always two sides, isn't there?). Since then she's been grounded from driving.

Sadly, my first response is not to grab my keys and head cheerfully for the door. She needed eggs "for the children's breakfast." Honestly, I'd rather have shared my eggs had she asked.

There is a selfish part of me that doesn't want to become her private taxi service. Gas is expensive, I'm busy and the last thing I want to do so close to dinner time is load the boys into the car to drive to the grocery store (or wherever).

But there's another side that wants to be a good neighbor--even though I've never lived in a neighborhood where I've seen real neighborliness. I want to make the most of every opportunity to be a witness to a family that comes from another culture and is at least loosely attached to a religion that's often antagonistic (even hostile) to ours.

I looked at my watch. I did have more than an hour until we were supposed to head to our small group tonight; the kids were fed and Hubs was just meeting us there. I had no real reason to deny the request. So, I did overrule my initial "not right now" response and we loaded up and went to the store.

My Bible study recently was about the Ten Commandments. It was explained that the Ten Commandments and the other "Civil Laws" were given just to the Hebrews, not to other cultures of the time. One of the questions was "How do you feel about being held to a higher standard?"

That was an easy one for me. I've always been kind of a rule-follower by nature. I'm all for avoiding bad consequences by not doing wrong things to begin with. That's not to say I always had a great attitude about it, but for the most part, doing the right thing comes pretty easily.

When it comes to rules that is. Now that we're "under grace" rather than under the law, we don't have that big ol' checklist of things to do/not to do/what-to-do-if-you-did-what-you-weren't-supposed-to-do. That should make it easier.

It was all summed up with "Love the Lord your God with all your heart...and love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment."

So why is that part harder for me sometimes?



Sandy said...

sometimes it takes courage to go outside the "rules" - like Jesus did. it takes a risk. great post! (ps think about rigidity that often comes w/rule "following" too!)

RefreshMom said...

Thanks for the thoughts Sandy. You're right; when I was young I think rigidity was definitely and issue for me. It kept me out of trouble, but I wasn't always the most gracious person. I've definitely mellowed with time and am a lot better about extending grace to myself and to others!

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