Have you ever been driving in your car, listening to your music, singing along when another car crowds into your lane right in front of you almost causing an accident? How about getting the horn and a “one finger salute” because the guy behind you thought you should have gone through the yellow light?
This happened to me six months ago. My first reactions were anger, frustration, and hostility. My happy, tranquil mood disappeared instantly. My heart rate accelerated, my blood pressure rose, and angry words flew out of mouth. I became totally distracted which is not a good idea while driving. I arrived at my destination flustered and irritated, and related the story to anyone who would listen.
Later that same evening, I went to church for an evening of praise and worship. As I sat among my friends and family, the scripture lesson was Luke 6:27-28 (MSG), “To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person.”
I started to squirm in my pew. My reaction to the highway incident earlier in the morning certainly did NOT bring out the best in me. “How can I maintain my Christian attitude when I’m driving with crazy people?” I said to myself.
The lesson continued on to verse 30, “If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.”
Ouch! This really hit home for me. It was like the verse read, “No more tit-for-tat stuff, JULIE.” Why should I be the servant? Well, I knew why..I just tend to forget in my moments of anger. As a believer in Christ, we are commanded to be “imitators of God,” as Paul said in Ephesians 5:1.
All my life I’ve heard these messages about loving your neighbor as yourself, being a servant as Christ came to serve, etc. I hear it and am committed to it on Sunday, but in the middle of rush hour traffic on Monday morning there is a gap; a gap between knowing what I should do (honor, serve, and love your enemies) and how to do it in moments of frustration.
God wants us to honor, serve, and love all people just as He does. That includes the crazy drivers, the rude waitress, the arrogant boss, and the distracted clerk. This is what Christ expects from us. We don’t wait for them to honor us first. We have to be the example.
As I reflected on that passage in Luke, I felt God showing me how I could’ve honored, served and loved those other drivers. Those irritated feelings I have toward other drivers still bubble up occasionally, but I recognize them now and immediately do the following:
1. HONOR that person by not judging their behavior. You aren’t driving in their shoes. There could be a very logical explanation behind their behavior. My favorite, “God Bless You” thought is that they are speeding because they are trying to get to a bathroom quickly. I have been in that situation before and believe me it is NOT fun!
2. SERVE that person by getting out of their way so they can proceed to their destination. By choosing NOT to react with anger or negatively, both of you will arrive alive and safe. Imagine you are made of glass (bear with me), and any rude gesture, word or incident that occurs on the highway (or elsewhere) passes right through you. Don’t let its negative energy interrupt your spirit of peace and joy.
3. LOVE that person by giving them a silent blessing, asking God to watch over them and the other traffic as they proceed on their way.
Even when we are at our worst like losing our patience, causing pain with our words and actions, our Father continues offering His love and forgiveness generously and graciously toward us. We have to be imitators! “Our Father is kind; you be kind,” Luke 6:36.
This is so hard to do, I get it! But we have the power and strength to honor, to serve, and to love! Read what Jesus promises when we choose to love the unlovable. He says in Luke 6:38, “Be easy on people: you will find life a lot easier. Give away your life: you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back- given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.” The more you imitate Christ’s love toward everyone, the more your life will be filled with blessings and more blessings!
Since I’ve made a conscious effort to extend love and silent blessings to aggressive drivers, my commute is a lot easier. I arrive at my destination safely, with a spirit of peace and joy. What a fabulous way to start my day!
So now when you find yourself in life’s other challenging circumstances, you have the tools to live that God Bless You Life by honoring, serving and loving. Now HONK if you love Jesus and God Bless your day!
CCWA wants to hear from you! Tell us how you honored, served, or loved one of your enemies today (keep their name anonymous!).