How many times have you suffered a crack in the windshield of your vehicle due to the impact of a rock being flung up by the tires of a big rig?
If your experience is like mine, across the years, the answer is: “So many I’ve lost count!”
Of course, what can be most frustrating about that experience is that in a great many cases such could have been easily prevented. The thing is the trailer truck didn’t have proper mud flaps. They were far too short, too limber, or perhaps even missing completely.
And so, as I made my way into Houston recently, I couldn’t help but notice the flaps on the truck that appears in this picture. It not only had thick, heavy, long flaps that nearly touched the ground, but it also had flaps between the wheels. Yes, between the wheels!
In other words, the entire rear of this truck – from the outside edge of one tire to the outside edge of the opposite tire – was arrayed with an effective barrier of quality mud flaps. It would be exceedingly difficult for anything to be flung up by this truck’s tires to find its way in becoming a projectile ready to do someone some harm.
Impressive! In part because such a thing is so rare that it stands out with clarity in contrast to the crowd.
The company that owns this truck went the second mile in terms of effort and expense to do everything possible to ensure that their trucks were “driving friendly.” This company is clearly concerned with leaving nothing but good in its wake on the way. It asks itself not, “What is the minimum I can get away with?” but, “What is best for those who follow me?” They are making their way through this world with gentleness.
Unfortunately, I never was able to find out the name of the company that owns this truck. If I had been able, I would have called them or emailed them and thanked them for their thoughtfulness and blessing of others. Such integrity stands out from the crowd!
So why am I telling you this story? Because in my mind it is a perfect illustration of the meaning of the word gentleness. At least the meaning of the word gentleness (Grk. – prautes) as it appears in that list of words we have come to know as “the fruit of the Spirit.” (Gal. 5.22-23a)
For the Christian who lives out this sort of gentleness bears in mind the consequences of their actions on others. They place the good of others before themselves. They are not careless, but mindful of, and deliberate toward, all others. They look out not just for their own good, but seek to bless all they encounter, though most of those others are even strangers to them. They don’t just try to avoid a mess for themselves in life, but avoid making a mess or problem for others to have to deal with. They intentionally extend great grace and mercy.
Pray with me, won’t you?
Lord, make us like these mud flaps – tough enough to readily and consistently take the hit for others, so as to give clear witness of who you are and what you are like: gentle. And make us like the operator of this truck – gladly willing to pay the price to be a blessing to others and to be as little of a problem or pain to others as possible. Steer us way from all that is the opposite of all that is your gentleness: abrasive actions, belligerent speech, the condescending and run-right-over-you look, and the aggressive spirit that constantly seeks to have its way. Guide us in the way of second-mile kindness that grows up from a heart of humility and a mind full of consideration for doing right by all others. Make us meek, Lord, and so, make us shine brightly in the dark world. Amen.