Confessions of a Pharisee

Road Rage

What is it about driving that makes us so quick to be impatient and judgmental? I know I am not alone in this. And I believe it it has, on more than one occasion, revealed to me an area in which I am in DIRE need of sanctification!

I took Aria to Michigan a few weeks ago to visit family, and on our way to the reunion it started pouring rain. I was on the freeway, trying to keep the car steady on the slick road. As I was trying to focus through the splattered windshield, I realized that the blue Miata behind me was tailgating me and would not back off. At that moment, I was road-blocked in the passing lane with a slow van in front of me and a sedan blocking my right side. I had nowhere to go.

Mr. Miata was getting ticked….and so was I. Who was this guy, speeding up so dangerously close to me in a rain storm? And I had my infant in the back seat!

My heart began to pound with growing anger toward this stranger.  I motioned to him through my rear view window that I couldn’t move, and that he should “back off!” The subsequent array of gestures that ensued from his end were, to say the least, unpleasant.

We exchanged perturbed looks as he finally zoomed past me a moment later, and we were again on our separate ways.

I grumbled in my heart the rest of the way about how horrible he was. I imagined of all the nasty things I would have liked to say to put him in his place,  and thought of how justified I would be in telling him off.

Then, when the heat of anger began to drain from my face and my pulse finally slowed, the conviction set in. The Holy Spirit whispered into my soul the truth that I had chosen to ignore in my moment of rebellion. I had given in to sin. And I knew it.

I didn’t even know this man from Adam, and here I was judging him….even cursing him in my heart. The pang of guilt rang clear in my heart as I recalled Jesus’ words:

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. ” (Matthew 5:21-22, emphasis mine).

I was the Pharisee in Luke 18, mocking God, thinking that I was justified in my reaction, when in reality, I failed miserably to “turn the other cheek,” and represent Christ. Even though words were never exchanged, I know my face had communicated all the unloving things I felt.

The tax collector in Luke 18, on the other hand, fell to his face under the weight of his sin. He saw the darkness that was in his own heart. He confessed it, and repented of it. He walked away justified.

If only I had been more self-controlled in that moment, and reacted more patiently and lovingly. But I am not perfect, and I fell short.

It is in those moments when I realize I’ve fallen short that I can be humbled and rejoice that I have a loving God who wants to save me.What Christ did on the cross covers our shortcomings. It is his sacrifice that compels us to season our words with salt, saturate our actions with love, and spread his glory broader and deeper.


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