I remember the day vividly. Our family was driving on the highway, cruise control set, and from the backseat I hear the questions, “Daddy, why is everyone passing us?”
Jokingly, I say, “Because I am going the speed limit.”
My son, astute as he is, thinks for a moment and says, “So every person who passes you is breaking the law?”
After thinking for a moment, my only response was, “Yes.”
Now, many reading this are going to get very defensive. Hopefully you can get past that. If not, feel free to stop reading now…
The Bible is decisively clear that Jesus’ Disciples are obligated to be subject to the governing authorities (Romans 13:1-2). The only exception to this obligation is when the governing authority demands contradiction of God’s Word (see the book of Daniel). In America, the law itself is the authority; not a person, monarch, dictator, or council.
What you find all too often is people have excuses for why “I set my cruise control for 5 over the speed limit.”
Excuse #1 – “I’m just going with the flow of traffic.”
- Since when do the people of God allow the culture around them to set the standard for conduct? I’m pretty sure a huge chunk of the Old Testament speaks to this exact issue…
- Next time a teenager gives the “Everyone else is doing it…” excuse, remember that is the same argument as for why you speed…
Excuse #2 – “The police only pull you over once you are 6mph over or more.”
- That means that obedience is only required in the presence of consequences? Have fun raising children…
- This is also a failure to acknowledge the presence of God in your own heart and life.
Excuse #3 – “Going 3 over doesn’t hurt anyone.”
- Once again, a failure to understand the Spirit that God has placed within you.
- Our political sphere is full of other topics where this argument is made (homosexuality, transgender issues, pornography, marijuana use, etc.). Very few of us are happy with this excuse on these issues, why are we okay with it about speeding?
The reality is, you see the law written plainly in front of you (the speed limit sign) and you choose to break the law.
So how does this hurt you (and the church)?
We have three accounts in Scripture where Jesus himself talks about the importance of being faithful in the little things prior to being entrusted with big things. Here are the final summations the “Master” gave to the faithful servant:
“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” Matthew 25:23
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” Luke 16:10
“And [the master] said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’” Luke 19:17
I wonder if sometimes when we pray about big things, God does a face-palm and thinks, “You are asking me to allow you to do this huge thing, when all the while you see a plainly displayed sign literally telling you how you are to conduct yourself (speed limit sign) and yet you purposefully disobey that law.”
This might seem like a nit picky topic to write on. But honestly, it hurts my heart because I hear people boast about it! They say things like, “It only took me 2 hours to get to Baltimore.” Well, that means your broke the law. Good job…
What I am talking about is consciously and purposefully sinning.
What I am not talking about is speeding when you don’t know the speed limit. That is a sin of ignorance. (This happened to me driving in Cumberland. I had no clue how fast I was supposed to be going. I chose a speed I thought was acceptable. I was wrong… But I was still accountable to the law. Still guilty even of my “hidden fault” (Psalm 19:12).)
What I am talking about is the practice breaking the law.
The Apostle John had some very serious words that apply here:
“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:4-10
For the sake of the “legalism police” reading this, here are a few comments:
- I am not saying you have to follow the speed limit to be saved.
- I am saying that a follower of Christ should have a standard of conduct that is above reproach; not for salvation, but rather because of salvation.