I am delighted I can go walking even though we are on level 4 lockdown. It clears my mind, helps a little with weight loss and gives me time to praise, pray and think.
Years ago, when we lived in the east, on our way to the office in downtown Arcadia we used the R21/Albertina Sisulu Highway (Airport Road). Being morning rush, the traffic was slow, and even though there were three lanes at that point, a taxi overtook me on my left. That sounds good in a three lane Highway … but the three lanes were jammed … the taxi illegally used the emergency land on the left. As I mumbled under my breath, Jenny put her hand on my left leg saying: “He neeeeeeds to be in the front!” If I reacted, it would have been road rage. I could relate a far more serious incident where we were pushed off the road into the barrier steel girding with the ‘Mad Max’ speeding off into the night. Road rage is a real curse in our country.
My morning walk became an enjoyable 6.4km one. Being Saturday, I was happy to see so many families walking, running, cycling, walking dogs and pushing baby prams. Pavements are designed for two pedestrians, one to pass the other without anyone hitting the sand, gravel or rocks one might come across. Two teenagers were walking. A boy and a girl. Lovely … they were most likely boyfriend and girlfriend meeting up and walking together. As I approached them, the boy refused to move out of my way and walk single file. Anyone could see I am not a teen or young adult. The giveaway is my grey hair and crinkle cut face. At the last second, he moved slightly. Could I label that as “walking rage”? Just that we understand this incident … it is far more common than you think. So many people are inconsiderate when using pavements … though there are many who are friendly, caring and sociable. Two ladies were pushing prams … one kindly slowed down and pushed her pram behind the other to allow me use of my side of the pavement.
I understand all illustrations (especially mine) can be ripped apart and misinterpreted. Please understand that I use these illustrations on purpose because they are personal to me. There are times when the “old man” wants to rear its ugly head and respond in a worldly manner. So how ought a believer to respond, be it to road rage or walking rage? Well, Paul under inspiration writes to his “pastoral apprentice”, Timothy, giving great counsel:
Tit 3:1 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.
3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
This passage starts off almost saying that the manner you respond to the government and other authorities will determine how you will respond to everyone (verses 1-2a). Before salvation, we were thoughtless and entitled (verse 3). That all changed when Jesus came into our hearts (verses 4-7). Peaceableness, considerateness and humility are only possible for those who have Jesus in their hearts!
(A great hymn we sang in the 70s & 80s was “What a Wonderful Change in my Life has been Brought”. The chorus goes like this: “Since Jesus came into my heart! Since Jesus came into my heart! Floods of joy o’er my soul like the sea billows roll, Since Jesus came into my heart!” I highly recommend listening to and singing the hymn here.)
Jesus’ half-brother speaks of salvation differently. He uses the concept of ‘wisdom’.
Jas 3:17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
Verse 17 tells us that once we have ‘wisdom from heaven’ [salvation], purity will shape our character. Look how purity is explained: “peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere”. Almost like with Paul (remember that the same Holy Spirit is behind all Scripture) … peace-loving … considerate … merciful! God wants saved people to behave differently from those in the world.
Dear God, I am so weak when I respond sinfully to this world’s ways. Forgive me and help me to be godly. Amen.