Have you ever been so sure you are right that you get a little huffy and prideful about it? If you haven’t either you are a much better person than I am, or you are living in denial. In 1 Corinthians 10:12 Paul writes "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."
Here is a story from my friend Tony Blair that illustrates this Biblical principle.
Tony writes: “Today I went to downtown Lancaster and parked in the Duke Street Garage, where you get a ticket as you enter and pay as you leave. When I went to leave, the pay machine at the exit wouldn't take my ticket... it kept telling me to remove it and re-insert it, which I did six dozen times or so. I moved over to the other lane and did the same thing with that machine, without success… (This has happened to me before, by the way. You can call me Mr. Lucky.) Since I couldn't get my car out of the garage and there was no one working the booth, I called the helpful folks at the Lancaster City Parking Authority.
I jest. This is where things got really fun. The woman at the other end... let's call her Ms. Insistence... insisted that I was inserting the ticket the wrong way. When I finally convinced her that I had tried every possible way and a few that weren't possible, Ms. Insistence insisted that the pay machine wasn't really the pay machine; that I had to go back into the garage and pay elsewhere. When I finally convinced her that the machine actually said "pay here", Ms. Insistence insisted that I was not in the garage I was actually in. When I finally convinced her that the hotel across the street was really the hotel across the street from the Duke Street Garage, Ms. Insistence apparently concluded that my IQ level was somewhere above 70 and insisted that she would send someone "over."
I'm not sure where the other side of "over" is, but it was a LONG time before help arrived in the form of two men in two different parking authority trucks. One helped me by standing stock still at the exit gate and staring at it intently. Let's call him Mr. Contemplation. The other guy, looking a tad intimidating in his reflective gear and hard hat, helped me by taking my ticket from me and inserting it the pay machine with an air of confident superiority. I was actually more delighted that it DIDN'T work for him than I would have been if it had.
Mr. Reflection then asked me to pay him directly. Now, while I was waiting for help to arrive my first hour of parking had come and gone, and I was now into my second hour so... you guessed it... Mr. Reflection insisted that I pay double. Yep, they charged me for their machine delaying my departure!
I paid. After all, I'd been trying to get of this parking garage now for longer than I had been parked in it. With Mr. Contemplation still admiring the beauty of the traffic gate, confident Mr. Reflection decided that a bit of customer service might help ease my pain, so he offered me a receipt. "Yes, please." Alas, the machine would not print one... that function of the machine was also apparently broken. I am not Mr. Lucky for nothing.
Mr. Reflection, being a confident man, was undaunted, however. Calling out, "just a moment" he sauntered away toward his matching-reflective truck, into which he disappeared for a long time, finally re-emerging to give me a handwritten, illegible receipt for paying him twice the money that I should have. I thanked him and then awaited the inevitable apology for all the inconvenience, but it seems that apologies are actually "evitable" with the Lancaster City Parking Authority. I didn't even know that was a word until today.
I left the garage with the weary but hopeful velocity of a student departing one of my exams. Mr. Contemplation was still staring at the exit gate with professional intensity, perhaps deeply moved by the whole experience. It was hard to tell.
All those people Tony dealt with were so sure they were right, but they were wrong. Maybe there are times you think you are right, but you are not - consider that you might be wrong and act accordingly (I need this advice as much as anybody).
Pastor Bill White
Summit Road Baptist Church