Do you think we live in sensitive times? In St. Louis a few years back, a motorist stopped at a red light at an intersection. A man waiting for a bus looked down and noticed the car’s right front tire was very low. He waved at the driver and yelled, “Hey, buddy. You’re front tire is just about flat.” The driver pulled to the curb, got out, and took one look at the tire. As he turned to get in his car, he spoke over his shoulder. “Thanks for being a Good Samaritan.” With that, the other guy bristled, “You can’t call me a dirty name and get away with it!” Jumping over the hood of the car, he took a swing at the driver. Both men started flailing away and both were taken to the hospital with injuries. What a world.
What’s wrong with us? It isn’t just the absence of common courtesy; there seems to be a simmering rage just waiting to explode in too many of us. Tempers flare without too much provocation. Gutter language vomits from the mouths of male and female, old and young. We live in a blame-any-one-but yourself world.
How do Christians respond in such an environment? Well, first be careful what bumper stickers you put on your car. A policeman followed a car with one of those “Honk if you love Jesus” stickers on it. He had watched the driver exhibit a little too much road rage as she tail-gated, honked at slower drivers, and even flipped another driver off. That was it. He turned on his flashing lights and puller her over. When he approached the driver side window, the woman had a sweet smile on her face and asked, “What’s the problem, officer? Was I speeding?” He replied, “No ma’am, you weren’t speeding. I noticed the bumper sticker on your car and observed your behavior. I thought you might be driving a stolen car.”
In Proverbs 15:1, the writer offered this advice: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.” Jesus gave us a wise approach to life: “Treat others as you wish to be treated” (Matthew 7:12). Paul wrote to the Galatians: “When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
No one said it was going to be easy, but surely there must be a difference in the way people of faith live their lives. I’m glad that Paul reminded us that the Holy Spirit produces the good stuff, not us. I need all the help He can give me!