One hears increasingly of the “Road Rage” phenomenon these days, people seemingly obsessed, or possessed, by a violent spirit when in charge of a car. Latent violence is unleashed by people who might otherwise be self-controlled and of a friendly disposition. Foul language, rude finger signs, facial grimaces, these are the least hurtful of the observed effects. Sadly, one hears all too often that a man jumps from his car and attacks the owner of another car, or if this proves impossible, he takes it out on the car itself. Sometimes there are cases of ramming into “offending” vehicles, regardless of the subsequent costs, which often are not met by Insurance claims.All this may be seen as the by-product of the age in which we live, an age of speed, where people no longer leave a time-slot for unexpected delays in transit. There is probably a lot more to it than that. Whatever it is, it is ugly to observe. Those who indulge in such violence are usually full of venom for some time after the event, telling other people about “that b***** fool” who did this, that or the other. When analysed it amounts to a case of unbridled accusation against another member of the public for an event which was either unprovoked, due to bad judgment and carelessness, or recklessness, and one-upmanship, the way of life of us all from time to time.
The reason for bringing this up is twofold. First of all, the Bible clearly tells us that in the flesh, in the Adamic nature, we are allcapable of becoming something quite vile, given the conditions to provoke our flesh into action. It is easy to condemn, for example, the Sodomites for the things they did, but Jesus said of them that if they had seen the miracles He did inCapernaum, they would have repented. They were not given the opportunity. Therefore we have no right to condemn them. Only God knows what we are capable of, if roused by circumstances. No one is better than another in this respect.
Here is man A, brought up under the most dire of circumstances, who has learned to live by his wits. He lies, he steals, he is violent if attacked, and seems to be against everyone. Here is man B, brought up in a high-class home, has a good job, a fine house, a wife and children, and is seen to be affable, friendly, and admired by all. Who knows what these two men might have been like if their backgrounds and circumstances had been reversed. Would man A have turned out to be affable and friendly? Would man B have become a rogue, and at odds with all mankind? Only God knows, and at the Judgment the Lord will look upon the hearts, and see, not just what we have done in life, but what we might have done under different conditions.
Hence, to sum up this first point, we need to reckon with this fact, and learn not to judge, to condemn people, for what we see, but rather to say “there, but for God’s grace, go I.” It operates when we are driving a car, as in all other circumstances of life. The second point is a bit of practical advice, which I am gradually learning, and finding difficult, because I am tarred with the same brush as everyone else. I used to watch “idiots”, “damn silly fools”, and “road hogs” operating on the highway. And either in my mind, or verbally if accompanied by my wife, I would say something like, “What the hell does that fool think he’s doing?” Some years ago the Lord spoke to my heart about such an attitude. Since then I’ve been trying to remember what to do instead. When someone overtakes recklessly, and for a few seconds I don’t know whether he’s going to make it or not, I have to get my mind into gear quickly, and say, “Lord, help him to get there safely.” By such action, an accident may be averted, simply because my mind is focussed on the man’s ultimate good, and not his present folly. Who knows whether my earlier attitude, of “Serves him right if he kills himself” might even have played into the hands of the one who is “The Accuser” to bring about an accident. Having come to realise just how precious every living soul is to the Lord, and that Jesus died on the cross for everyone, it alters our whole way of thinking. Instead of looking at mankind with the “Us and Them” attitude (to use Rudyard Kipling’s poem title) we can see everyone in a crowd as jewels, rough and uncut, maybe, but the Master’s gems of creation. In time, they will all weep for their sins, as they see Jesus lifted up as their sacrifice for sin.
Such an attitude is very hard to put into practice, but I have found that with persistence, it becomes more of a way of life, and kills dead that shocking attitude of roundly condemning people for mistakes, and thereby setting ourselves up as “righteous” by comparison. I commend these thoughts to our readers, knowing that we are all made of the same stuff.