Road Rage and Rude Gestures
Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. 1 Corinthians 10:32-33
Last week, my son and I were driving along when a vehicle passed us and as it did, the driver made a very angry, rude gesture. Though I have no idea how, I had apparently caused him some offense and he let me know it. Suddenly, I too was offended and angry. Instantly, I sped up. I had no idea what I was going to do when I passed him, but for that moment, I was mad, and I wasn’t going to stand for being flipped off. Fortunately, I quickly realized how stupid that was and slowed down, falling behind.
In those few seconds though, I was all anger and emotion. I’d been wronged and, in my offense, I wasn’t thinking. My mind didn’t naturally turn to how I could be a good witness for Christ. I could only focus on me and my right to retribution. I needed to offend him in return.
Paul would not have been impressed. In today’s passage, he insisted that life isn’t about seeking our own good and defending our own rights. Paul didn’t look out for himself, but rather sacrificed, doing whatever it took, to avoid giving offense so that as many as possible might come to know Christ. He was so consumed with doing the work of God that he would rather choose not to be offended when wronged. He sought to sacrifice himself so that those around him might see the love of God and thus, come to know him.
This is foreign to most of us. We have rights. We must retaliate when offended. I, me, my, mine. We’re terminally obsessed with self. Paul didn’t say we must become doormats, but he did model a life that wasn’t focused on himself. If we want to follow Christ, then daily, we too must choose to look to God’s will and the good of those around us, instead of seeking only our own will.
In the car the other day, I calmed down, slowed down, and my son and I soon laughed at the event. As it turned out, that other car got stopped at the next red light and we pulled up alongside, by which time I could smile and wave. I don’t know that my kind gesture calmed him down, but at least I chose to do the right thing, and that’s all I can control.