A young father grew frustrated that there were no appropriate family movies to watch with his young boys, so he decided to put on an old Western from his childhood. During the movie, however, he was bothered by the number of times the cowboys went into the saloon. More than that, there were several cases of drunkenness. When the movie ended, he had a discussion with his boys about alcohol and drinking. He wanted to stress that Christians should avoid drunkenness and that he hoped his boys wouldn’t go to saloons. After the talk, he felt good about having handled what he thought was a tricky matter.
A few days later, the boys were playing cowboys around the house. One son came and said, “Dad, I have something to tell you. I’m going into a saloon. But don’t worry. It’s not to get drunk. I just have to shoot someone.”
Sometimes, we miss the point. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees by saying, “Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel!” (Matthew 23:24)
The young father wasn’t wrong in pointing out the dangers of drunkenness, but he neglected to see the way that our society devalues life. What matters is how we treat other people, how we help those in need and even what we say about others. Our personal holiness needs to extend to the way we interact with our neighbors as we learn to love them even as we love God.
“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
Make sure you’re paying attention to the people around you.