As I was thinking about how different aspects of our lives can be related to driving, it came to mind how it is important to measure things as we go through life. It helps us know if we’re on the right track or if something needs adjusting. We have different ways of measuring things and different tools to use when doing so. We can use a ruler or tape measure to measure length. If we want to know if an angle on a triangle is a right angle, we use our protractor. When driving, we have traffic laws as our authority. And, the ultimate measuring rod for our lives is the divinely inspired collection of scriptures the we call The Bible.
Before moving forward, I’d like to make clear that I’m not advocating legalism. At no point in my writings will you find me advocating that you need to obey God’s laws and follow his word so that you will be more righteous before God. The idea that we get access to eternal heaven by following a particular set of requirements is anti-scriptural and is dishonoring to God; it took the life-giving blood of his son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and his resurrection to accomplish our eternal salvation. However, what is a completely scriptural concept is that we are to serve God and follow his commandments out of love. To advocate following God’s book is not legalism; it is true service, and it is how we are to live. The Apostle Paul said in II Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” He tells us here that scripture is profitable and that we should look to it to find our source of correction and instruction. Our Lord Jesus said in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
Now that we agree we are to follow God’s word out of love, let us look further at some concepts. When we start to measure our lives, it is quite a bit more complicated than determining if a line is straight or if an angle is a right angle. And just like measuring life, measuring driving is complicated, too. Few of us have read the “manual” in that case (or at least not since we first took a driver’s ed course), but we’ve received enough instruction to get by fairly well. But, how much more important is it to follow God’s book for our lives and constantly measure our progress than it is to measure anything else? Is that not our ultimate responsibility? For in doing so, we glorify him.
The Bible is so important that we should be reading it daily. There is always more that we can learn from the wisdom that lies within its pages; and because we are forgetful creatures, we need to constantly be reminded about things that we’ve already learned from the word.
Aren’t we the same way about driving? Many of us have forgotten some of the helpful tips and rules of the road that we learned in driver’s ed, and occasionally law enforcement officers will remind us! That might result in us taking a defensive driving course (which I did recently) to help us remember. There are so many distractions, such that sometimes even if we know the right thing to do our driving ability still suffers. Is not our life before God the same way? We allow the distractions and entertainments that this world offers to keep us from doing what we are called to do.
Reading God’s word daily will make our lives less complicated. It is a book that tells us the truth about man’s inherent evil nature, and how if God had not intervened we would have been doomed to eternal separation from him. In other words, as Jesus told us in John 15:5, “without me ye can do nothing.” Without his saving grace, we would be lost and without hope. We know such truths from reading his word. The word of God speaks very plainly. Sometimes the truth stings. But give me always the truth that stings rather than lies that soothe!
When I went to a defensive driving course recently, they showed a video that convicted me of some of my driving habits. The truth stung a little, but I’m a better person for it. I will go away and attempt to improve my driving habits by applying what I learned. Do we do the same thing with our lives and God’s holy word?
Let’s look at some other spiritual lessons we can learn from thinking about measurements and driving. The most common thing drivers probably measure is the performance of other drivers. Sometimes when you’re driving you may find yourself saying something like, “Hey, fella, come on. Pick a lane.” You may not have said that but maybe you’ve heard someone else say it. Or maybe, “Get off my tail!” We seem to notice when others disobey the laws more easily than we notice ourselves doing it. And if we’re not careful we can become full-time judges of other people’s driving. If we’re not careful about our attitude, in our minds we will view everyone as a bad driver except ourselves. Let us take care to not do that with our lives in judging others’ spirituality!
Did you ever notice that anytime people talk about driving it’s often how bad other drivers are? But you never seem to talk to one of these bad drivers. Where are all these bad drivers? I’ve never met one. Haha! Every driver with whom I speak turns out to be a good driver who is an expert on the bad driving everybody else is doing! Of course, I am exaggerating to make a point, but let us move forward.
The truth is, if we could see ourselves driving we’d probably be embarrassed. We probably miss the mark a lot. Can we apply this to our spiritual life? Do we miss the mark often? Do we spend more time criticizing the lives of others than we do examining ourselves and reading the “guide book” to see how we might improve?
This doesn’t mean we should never make judgments about the actions of others. We read in the scriptures how to know who a liar is: “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.” – I John 2:22. And there are a multitude of other examples which teach us to observe the fruit which others bear (e.g. Matthew 7:20). When we are driving, we all know that we must constantly be aware of what the other drivers are doing. But the point God’s word makes is that we are not to become critics where our focus is always on what others are doing. Taking heed to ourselves is vital. But many people like to quote Matthew 7:1 (“Judge not, that ye be not judged.”) and take it out of context of the chapter and of the rest of God’s word. There are times when it’s quite appropriate to look at the righteousness of others.
II Thessalonians 3:6 says “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.” How are we supposed to know who’s walking disorderly if we don’t look at their words and deeds?
The problem is that God’s children fall into the trap of focusing all their attention on the failures of others and fail to see their own failures, just as when we are driving we tend to look at others’ failures rather than our own. Jesus obviously taught against doing that (“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” – Luke 6:41). The solution is usually in the middle, as I’ve found with many things. We shouldn’t go too far one way (never look at the righteousness of others) or too far the other way (focus completely on the righteousness of others). We must weigh things against what scripture as a whole has to say. In doing so, we can avoid many pitfalls (potholes) and keep pointed toward our destination which is to be in the presence of our Lord and to serve him while we live on this earth.