Parking Space Righteousness

May 5, 2014

Recently, I have been arriving to work early in the morning. I enter a parking lot that is almost completely empty, and I have my pick of the empty spaces. Yet, the decision is difficult – what does the choice say about me? I could pick the spot closest to the door, but then someone coming behind me, who needs a closer space more than I do, will be left with a longer walk in the cold and rain. In the last two days, after I have parked some spaces away, I’ve seen two different people zip into the “prime space,” and I wondered if they struggled with their decision. I was reminded of two things:

In Matthew 23, Jesus speaks prophetic woes against the Scribes and Pharisees. He tells them, “The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:11-12 ESV).

I also remember a story I heard years ago about a pastor of a large church. When the congregation moved into a new building, the staff reserved a parking space near the church office with a sign “Reserved for Senior Pastor.” Not too long after, the pastor was teased that he was special because he got a parking spot near the door. The next day, the pastor asked the staff to remove the sign, and he began to park in a space far from the door.

As I watched these people leave their car for the short walk to the door, I had to confess my struggle with “parking space righteousness.” I wondered if the choice of a prime parking space communicates the attitude of the heart. It is in the details of life that the attitude of my heart is revealed, and that makes me wonder, “Would Jesus take the prime parking place?” Yet, I also need to ask another question: “Would Jesus judge the attitudes of others who choose to park in the prime space?”

Either way, I must confess my tendency to exalt myself – whether it be in choosing the prime space or in thinking that I am better than others in choosing to give up the prime space. True humility comes from having the mind and manner of Christ, which can only be wrought in me by the work of the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God, who patiently endures with me as I struggle to serve others with the strength that he provides.

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