Two separate and unrelated articles appeared in the news recently which, taken together, teach an important lesson.
Work Around Construction
The first of these articles (July 31, 2020) told about the Gate Tower Building in Osaka, Japan. This 16-story, cylindrical-shaped building has a highway passing right through its center. The highway takes up its 5th, 6th, and 7th floors. The 8th floor, just above the highway, consists of a large conference room. The reason for this oddity goes back to an early 20th Century property dispute. Allowing the highway to pass through the center of this office building was an accommodation that the landowner and city council agreed upon.
A week later (August 7, 2020) another article appeared in the news telling about another building, in the Chinese city of Guangzhou. In this tiny, one-story shack lived an old woman. Her modest home was the last of 47 homes which stood in the path of a major highway construction project. All the other homeowners accepted the city’s offer to move to a better place. But this woman refused to budge.
According to that article, the government had offered the woman, Mrs. Liang, “two other flats as well as monetary compensation of 1.3 million yuan ($186,500). She allegedly asked for four flats and 2 million yuan ($287,000).” The government refused to make a better offer and Mrs. Liang refused to move. So the highway, too big to pass over, under, or through her little house, accommodated her by building around her. Today she lives all alone and with no neighbors. Only the relentless noise of speeding cars and trucks directly to her front and back keep her company.
I suppose Mrs. Liang could boast that she was “tough enough” to stand her ground and force the highway and bridge to go around her. In reality, it was only the kindness of the Chinese government – not particularly known for kindness – that didn’t turn the bulldozers loose on her property. It was only the patience of the developers that made them alter their plans and build the highway around her shrimpy little shack.
The Strong Vs The Insecure
It struck me that her property was simply too small to do otherwise. It was too tiny to share any of its space. The highway would have obliterated her small home. The Gate Tower Building, however, was large enough to share a portion of its space to the highway. Only a big building can do that.
Additionally, what’s true of buildings is also true of people. Only the great can be magnanimous. Only the strong can be gracious, accommodating, and giving. In contrast, the small, the petty, and the weak are the ones who cling miserly to their little square inch of turf. They’re the ones who instantly go into a defensive posture every time someone comes near them. And why do they do so? Because they fear being rolled over.
Then, when the bigger person steps aside out of courtesy and kindness so as not be threatening, the small, petty person swaggers by and thinks to themselves, “I won that battle.” But there was no battle to win. There was only a display of courtesy and kindness by the strong toward the pathetic little person.
The insecure individual always has to rush to be the “next in line,” lest someone get ahead of them and they be “left out.” This person never shows courtesy in these situations. Think of it like street traffic. They’re not likely to give you a break and let you pull in front of them. Instead, they speed up and fight to stay ahead, unable to generously let you in. They’re too weak and afraid to do so.
Strength Within Kindness
One must be strong to display courtesy and kindness. One must be great to step aside to give the fearful and weak the right of way. Yet our upside-down culture tends to interpret kindness and courtesy as signs of weakness. More accurately, the fearful and weak interpret courtesy and kindness as weakness. For only those strong enough to display these virtues know how truly difficult they are to exhibit to others.
Of course, the Bible’s been telling us this for millennia. It is God who, in His omnipotence and love, displays kindness and patience with us frail little creatures. But we, in our weakness, treat His kindness with contempt (Romans 2:4).
Being godly and Christ-like amounts to being great, being kind, and being generous. Only by His grace and power can we rise above our frail limitations and be like Him. Paul the apostle told us, “be imitators of God as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1). Jesus told us, “love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36).
Dear Father in heaven, please open my eyes to see and appreciate Your tender love for me. Help me to rise above my own pettiness and puniness to be like You in Your selfless love and kindness. Day by day, dear Father, make me more and more like Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
(Information from: https://www.odditycentral.com/architecture/this-japanese-building-has-a-highway-passing-right-through-it.html; https://www.odditycentral.com/news/massive-road-bridge-built-around-tiny-house-of-very-stubborn-owner.html)
The content of this article comes from “The Warrior’s Bible” (2014) and is copyrighted by Life Publishers International. Used with permission.