The following is just one man's opinion, but I tend to believe it takes far less toll on the physical body, peace of mind -- and ability to get a good night's sleep when we are courteous to others rather than being mean and nasty.

Please note these cases in point.

SCENARIO 1: Doesn't it just tick you off when a driver on the service road fails to yield to you when you are coming in for a landing on the exit ramp at a speed of 80 miles per hour off the U.S. Highway 287 bypass? I mean, after all, the service road traveler has the yield sign. And you are well within your rights -- and the law is on your side for you to claim right of way and place the lives of everyone in both cars in jeopardy. Oh but it's unthinkable to let that deadbeat on the service road win out.

Does this thought flood your mind while you are acting like a wild man (or woman) by claiming your right of way, "That guy needs to be taught a lesson about how to drive!" Why? Who put you in charge of teaching a lesson to some total stranger, in another car, about driving? Do you think they are saying to themselves, "Wow, that maniac coming off the highway, has really made me stop and think about safety! I hope to be able to thank him (or her) someday."

I hardly think so.

SCENARIO 2: You're driving through the Walmart parking lot awaiting the most perfect parking spot -- the spot where you only have to walk a few steps before entering the door, thus saving you from having to gain too much exercise? After all, you've just had your morning bath, and really don't need to sweat. You found the parking space, but it's a little too late -- so you have to circle back around the parking lot and try to approach that perfect space again. But as you get back on the aisle to get to that space, a little 80-year-old lady in a giant Mercury Grand Marquis with a carriage top gets in front of you and "steals" your space. So you blast her with your horn and yell some not-so-polite verbiage at her. She has violated your rights! The nerve!

SCENARIO 3: You have attended the same church for 40 years. Your own home-made afghan is draped over your space in the pew where you've always planted yourself during the service. The afghan signals to others that this is your space in church, and nobody -- but nobody had better even think about sitting there. After all, that's where you have worshiped and communed with God for a lifetime.

But alas -- a young, bedraggled family, with four kids, -- a family that probably struggled since before daylight to get ready to come and visit the church for the very first time, had no idea that this was your space, and just planted themselves at the place where you have prayed, sang praises to God, and worshiped and communed with God for 40 years. But there they are -- infringing on your rights. So what do you do? You stand there and glare at them until they finally feel uncomfortable enough to get up and move elsewhere. Then ultimately they move to another church somewhere, rather than to remain there in infringe upon some faithful, spiritual church member's space. I'm sure you would feel like a big winner. You won! You have maintained your standing as the person around whom the whole universe revolves. Congratulations!

Is the Bible on your side as you behave like an overgrown spoiled child? Well, let's see what it says:

"Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another:" Romans 12:10. In other words, be willing, and even overjoyed to risk a little discomfort and inconvenience for the sake of making others feel warm, loved and accepted.

Why not yield to the person who does not have the yield sign? Why not consider that the little lady in the big Mercury, is battling with arthritis, Parkinson's disease, or heart trouble, and could really use that more convenient parking space? Why not be thankful the young family chose to come to your church, and you show grace enough to sit somewhere else while they enjoy your own personal pew? Hey, here's a thought; take your afghan and go sit on the front pew -- it's always empty - and furthermore, you can hear the preacher better, and he will never see you because he's looking at the back wall while he preaches. You can nap in peace!

I'm no doctor, but I would bet people who are nice, and sweet to others, probably have lower blood pressure, and will probably live longer than people who must always win - who must always prove a point -- and who are confident the whole universe revolves around them.

Life will have so much more meaning and joy when we are sweet - rather than trying to claim our petty rights.


Paul Gauntt currently serves as the pastor of First Baptist Church of Palmer.