I spent Wednesday flying home from Eastern Europe. The first flight, from Budapest to London, was filled to capacity. Due to limited overhead storage space, an airline employee cruised the crowds lined up at the airport check-in and put yellow tags on backpacks, purses, computer bags, and the like. “These tagged items must be placed under your seats,” she said in a spry British accent.
An hour or so later, as passengers boarded the plane and stowed their belongings, two flight attendants scoured the overhead bins for additional space. “Who owns this bag?” asked one attendant as he pulled a small tagged computer bag from the bin. “It must be stowed under the seat.”
The man across the aisle from me claimed it. The moment the flight attendant turned his back, however, the man muttered and then opened the bin directly over my row. He promptly planted his tagged bag among the other carry-ons there and then returned to his seat.
Whaaaat? I thought. How inconsiderate! Sheesh. Some people are just plain ol’ selfish.
The next leg of my journey was from London to Vancouver. Gene and I had bulkhead seats in row 39. This row offers extra legroom. It also features three seats. We’d reserved the aisle and the middle seats. A young mom of East Indian descent, wrapped in a hot pink sari, occupied the window seat. She cradled a sleeping infant.
Minutes after take-off, a flight attendant asked the mother if she wanted an infant seat for her baby. The mother nodded. The attendant unfastened a wall-mounted table directly in front of us and strapped a seat onto it. Doing so meant we lost our extra space. It also meant that I was trapped. Getting out would require a few gymnastic moves. And as if that wasn’t enough, my seat’s TV screen couldn’t be positioned properly to enable me to watch a movie if I wanted to pass a couple of hours mindlessly.
Whaaaat? I thought. How inconsiderate. Sheesh. Some people are just plain ol’ selfish.
And that’s when the Holy Spirit poked me.
“Who’s selfish?” He asked.
‘Why, the lady with the baby,” I said.
“Wrong,” He said. “It’s you.”
I wanted to protest the unfairness of it all, but I knew He was right. That young sari-clad mom needed an infant seat a lot more than I needed to watch a movie on the nine-hour flight. The least I could do was show some compassion.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Consider other people’s needs ahead of your own,” says Philippians 2:3,4.
How easy it is to read that verse and even rattle it off, especially when it doesn’t apply to us. How hard it can be when we feel our rights have been violated. I mean, really, hadn’t I paid for the right to watch a movie on the trans-Atlantic flight? Yes, but the mom had paid for the right to use an infant seat. And her needs were obviously greater than mine.
Truth be told, I was really tired (from attending a missionary conference, nonetheless), and I didn’t feel much like adjusting my attitude. Thankfully the Holy Spirit caught my attention quickly and wouldn’t let me go until I’d responded. He’s good to me that way.
How about you? How have you had to connect the dots between Philippians 2:3,4 and real life?