Fast forward to the last few years. The deeds on the rest of the parcels of acreage are finally clear and others have bought and moved in. Oh, for the money to have bought it all way back then…
As you come down our drive now, you pass one plot in particular where you wonder if you missed the “Junkyard” sign. Empty fertilizer sacks, empty feed sacks, broken buckets with all their pieces, torn potato chip bags and candy bar wrappers, shattered plastic milk jugs, toys in various states of disrepair, gardening tools, rusty tractor parts and old horse trailers, torn screen segments, pieces of hose draped over fences, broken down appliances, seldom- or no longer-driven vehicles including a burnt-out semi tractor, and piles of pure garbage dot the landscape. I knew we were in trouble the first week these folks moved in, when a used disposable diaper sat in the yard for days, and then they mowed over it, scattering it to the winds.
When you say anything to them, the standard reply is, “This is our land. We can do with it what we want. It’s no business of yours.”
But it is, and do you know why? Because every time the wind blows I must go around with a trash bag and pick up the litter than blows over or through the fence onto our property. Every time a strong rain comes, more is washed down around the gate. And should we ever decide to sell, the mere fact that any prospective buyer must go past that mess to get to us, will lower our property value. Keith explained this last fact to them one day, and they said, “Huh? Why?”
Do you know what? Sometimes I also fail to see how my life is anyone else’s business. It’s easy to say, “This doesn’t hurt anyone, so why can’t I do it?” or, “Why does it matter how I let my attitude show? They can just ignore me.” In real life, that is impossible. I do affect everyone who comes into contact with me. I can make their days better or worse. I can say something that will help or hinder. I can do something that comforts or hurts. What I cannot do is something that has no affect at all—it is simply impossible.
My trashy neighbors have actually done me a lot of good. I find myself thinking about these things more and more, wondering whom I am affecting every day, and hoping it is for the good. I hope hearing about them will help you today too.
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Clean out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, 1 Cor 5:6-8.