I have never (NEVER) owned a brand new vehicle. It isn't that I haven't wanted to but rather I (we) have never been able to afford the type of vehicle I prefer that is brand new. The default for vehicle buying for us then is predicated upon latest model with the lowest mileage, the best condition, and at the right price. Recently, we were told by the inspection mechanic that the 2003 pick-up, while passing inspection, was beginning to show signs of age (aka rusting away). With that information along with signs of wear and tear I had noticed lately, we set out to buy a newer pick-up. And we did.
The new truck (new to us but not really brand new) is a 2012 model and is in decent shape for 64,500 miles. The price wasn't incredibly terrible. Could it have been better? Yes. Was it more economical than a new model? Absolutely. I am happy with the newer vehicle.
It was with some surprise the other day when I walked to my newer truck sitting in a grocery store parking lot that a fellow walked by and commented how nice my truck looked. I have heard those comments before and conversations have spawned into questions including what year it is, how big is the engine, and how many miles are on it. This conversation was no different. He asked what year it was and fawned over the condition of the truck. I beamed a little. Nothing gets a man's attention more than when someone offers glowing remarks about their vehicle. I think God placed a pleasure center in the male brain dialed to specifically receive praise about their vehicles. (well, maybe not, but it sure works like that in my brain.) (I think women have a place in their brain dialed into shoe comments.) He then mentioned he had a 71 Chevelle he was restoring to hopefully put on the drag strip at Beaver Springs in 2019. I gave him a, "Whoa, that's a muscle car." retort and he nodded.
If you understand the nature of restoring an old vehicle into something that will turn a quarter mile in around 14-15 seconds it is this; It takes a great deal of time, patience and MONEY! I was about to go into a deeper conversation about his restore project. I wanted to ask him what kind of engine he would drop into it. What gears would he use. How had he lightened the vehicle but still kept it sturdy and safe. All these pertinent questions were swirling around in my head.
Instead of having an ongoing 'guy talk' about cars, driving fast, and appreciating mechanical things, he knocked the wind out of my sails in about 5 seconds. He looked down at the ground and then said, "I'm just looking for $.50 to add to what I already have so I can go get a quart of beer." The air left my lungs, the pleasure center in my brain went dark, and the only response I could muster was, "Oh, all I have is a credit card on me. Sorry I can't help you buddy." I turned away and silently grumbled about his dishonesty. He could apparently afford car parts for his Chevelle but needed me to give him $.50 for a beer....
As I climbed into the truck, I marveled at the deft words he had used to get my attention. His glowing remarks about the truck were akin to dangling a hook of sorts in front of me. His approach wasn't based upon transparency and need. If it had been, I would have found a way to buy the man a quart. Not that I affirm that behavior but that our conversation would have been honest, above board, and based upon understanding and relationship and not manipulation.
"All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not
even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their
lips.” (Romans 3:12-13, NIV)
I thought about how close I was to grab the dangling hook of pride and then it dawned on me. Have I been the one who glibly walks by and drops a glowing remark toward another with some ulterior motive? Am I the one who has undermined a relationship because I was looking for something other than that? If I read the text from Romans 3 correctly, then I am the one. I have used words and actions to deceive another person. I have not always been honest and have undermined possible friendships. So have you....
What would it look like to treat each person with dignity and respect? What would it sound like to use honesty as the basis for each conversation? How do we change our approach toward other people so that conversations lead to friendships and ongoing lives lived in growth and unity? It is my observation that our churches, our country, and our world could benefit from an honest introspection of our motivations. Are they self-centered and based upon deceit? If so, there is a way to change that.
"But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the
Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his
grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:21-24, NIV)
"A Musing Pastor"