There is a story about a man standing by his stalled automobile, hoping someone will stop and give him a push. Finally a lady pulls up alongside of him and asks if she can help. The gentleman explains that he needs a push but adds that his car has an automatic transmission and that she will need to get up to 35 mph before his engine will start. She agrees to give a push and backs up to get behind him. He jumps into his car and waits and waits and waits. Finally, he looks behind him to see where she has gone just in time to see her come at him at 35 mph. Of course there is a big crash and now instead of one car needing a push, we have two cars needing a tow truck.

There is no doubt the lady meant well and truly wanted to help. The problem is she went about it the wrong way. She did not know that to push another car one must get up against the bumper very gently and begin very slowly and gradually to pick up speed.

How often have we had a desire to help others who are spiritually low and because we can see they need a push we come at them at 35 mph? In spite of our best intentions we end up with a collision instead of a push. Paul gives us good advice when he says, “The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves”. We know that some do appear to oppose even themselves. In fact we often hear it said that “so and so is his own worst enemy”. In spite of this, we must be gentle and meek in our approach to them. Of course we can see their faults as plain as the nose on their face. It is always this way with someone else’s mote. Jesus gives us good advice concerning the other fellow’s mote and our beam. The RSV puts it this way: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is a log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye”.

Jesus is not saying that we should not try to help our brother who has the speck in his eye but he is saying that we should first be conscious of our own log.

God, in His wisdom, has given us a mediator who understands our problems because he was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. Jesus understands because he has gone through what we are trying to endure. When we try to help our brothers and sisters, let us pray that we too will be understanding of their problems and try to gently help them instead of coming at them at 35 mph. Just because our car will run and theirs is stalled does not give us license to ram them. In a very short time it may be that we are stalled and they are moving; so let us push gently as we would be pushed. From Jesus’ story of the good Samaritan we know that we are not to just drive past them but let us be sure that when we stop to help, that what we do for them is a help and not a crushing blow.

Paul reminds Titus to “speak evil of no one, to avoid quarrelling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all men” (RSV). When troubles come up in the meeting, as they invariably will, if we would only follow this advice how much good would be accomplished. If only we would obey these four rules of Paul, we would truly help instead of crush them. Remember: 1. Speak evil of no one. 2. Avoid quarrelling. 3. Be gentle. 4. Show perfect courtesy.