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  • Shawn Thornton

The Sherman Tank and the HOA

Monday - March 1st

Devotionals from the Book of James

Scripture to Read Today: James 4:11-17


But you - who are you to judge your neighbor?

James 4:12

In 2017, a man in Texas purchased a working Sherman tank and parked it outside his house. After sending a "sternly worded letter" and realizing that they couldn't tow the vehicle, the local HOA began issuing parking tickets for the tank. The owner did not immediately budge.

Tony Buzbee—a trial lawyer and Marine veteran—parked the fully operational tank on the street in front of his home on one of Houston's nicest residential streets. Hundreds of local gawkers came to see the surprising sight. History buffs and children were thrilled at the sight of "Cheyenne," the tank's name as painted on the side by its previous owner. Many stopped their cars to get out and pose for selfies and family pictures with it.

As you can imagine, some neighbors were not so happy. The HOA sent Buzbee a terse letter demanding the tank be removed. Buzbee dragged his feet for several weeks and finally relented.

What would you do with such a neighbor? HOAs get labeled as controlling and demanding far too easily. This situation seems to be one about which few would blame the HOA board for their actions. A tank may be an extreme example of neighborly criticism, but we can all be a bit judgmental of others.

James 4:11-12 challenges us about how we evaluate and judge others. A critical spirit or attitude grows quite quickly in the human heart. Those closest to us by relationship and/or proximity can feel the intensity of the criticism often before anyone else. They live in the shadow of our judgmentalism.

The command to "Love your neighbor as yourself" in Scripture is second only to the command to love God with everything we have. In Luke 10, Jesus Himself affirmed that we are indeed to love God and then love our neighbors. He then gives the Good Samaritan example as a clear, loving pattern for us to follow. When James addresses the critical spirit that can permeate our hearts and lives if we let it, he asks, "Who are you to judge your neighbor?" (James 4:12).

Take a moment to evaluate your spirit or attitude toward those around you in life. Is your first response to them one of love or one of judgment? If you find that in recent months or years a critical spirit has crept into your heart, confess it to the Lord. Ask Him to help you see those around you through His eyes of love!

As we seek to be more like Jesus, our hearts should be filled with love, not criticism toward others!

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