Photo: Manitoba highway
While on a recent road trip my husband and I were discussing how discernment should operate in an atmosphere of love and grace. Just then a car pulled out in front of us as it turned left onto the highway. My husband had to hit the brakes to avoid a collision. He let out a heart-felt, “Whew! Lord, help that guy!!”
I felt the Lord say, “Like that.”
As I thought about it, it came to me that our vehicle had the right of way. We were in the right. The vehicle that pulled out ahead of us was clearly in the wrong and it was his responsibility to yield. Had we continued going the speed we were going, and had there been a collision the other driver would have been charged –but we both would have been wounded -probably very seriously.
I realized the Lord is teaching me that in discerning wrong teaching or a wrong spirit we have the option of restraining ourselves, even if we are perfectly right, to makes allowances for a brother or sister’s error in judgment.
I think this person driving the other vehicle just made a bad judgment call. Perhaps they were inexperienced, or tired, or just plain inconsiderate; perhaps they had an emergency we knew nothing about. Now had it been obvious that they were drunk and careening about the road in a grossly unsafe fashion, obviously being a threat to their own or others safety, we would have gotten their license number and called the police. Had the driver been someone under our authority, one of our kids or a student we were teaching to drive, we would have made a u-turn and followed them until we could have pulled them over, found out what on earth they were thinking (or not) and given them a kind but honest talking-to, or even taken their keys if the situation called for it. Had the driver been a close friend we may have done the same, but perhaps would have appealed to them to be more careful.
Sometimes, in the church Body, we are called to do that, but not often. Sometimes we need to warn others, but most of the time we need to apply the brakes, make concessions, let them by, pray for them and trust Holy Spirit to police the roads. He’s the one who brings conviction. Neither party would gain anything by ramming them to teach them a lesson. In fact, both would lose and the journey would be greatly hindered.
It’s not as if no one has ever had to apply the brakes for me. As much as it hurts I’d rather have a friend come along side, pull me over, speak kindly and honestly to me, and bring the consequences of my choices to my attention, than to read about “some people” on Facebook or read a rant about my heretical beliefs on a blog, or overhear “concerns” in a hallway. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Proverbs 27:6
Today I read, “…pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace along with those who call on the Lord from pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth and they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil after being captured by him to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2: 22b-26.
There are, indeed, some reckless, inconsiderate, inexperienced people with too much power out there on the road. Be alert. Be ready to step on the brakes. Drive carefully. Pray.