The sign greets you entering and exiting our neighborhood. A clever twist on “Smokey the Bear” commercials. “Only You can prevent Forest fires.” Those were meant to instill a principle with a cuddly bear posing as your friend. This is a warning! If you (the collective you who live in this neighborhood) do not slow down, you will pay a hefty price. Speed bumps to jar your car’s suspension, rattle your brains, and make your morning commute even longer. Additionally, the homeowners will probably have to pay for the installation of the speed bumps.
God’s word is full of warnings to believers about how to live as new creations in Christ. Galatians 5 and 6 are overflowing with contrasts between a person’s actions before coming to Christ and the model Christian’s lifestyle as a new creation in Christ. Just as we are freely given the road on which to drive, we are given freedom in Christ. But we cannot speed down the road endangering others’ lives anymore than we can misuse our freedom in Christ to give free rein to the flesh. Paul warns:
“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” Galatians 5:13-15
Sounds like a warning that comes with a speed bump. The bone rattling destruction of relationships–of each other. But Paul gives us a hope that the sign in our neighborhood lacks. The believer’s posted sign does not begin with “Only You.” We have the Holy Spirit to help us live this new creation life. On our own, we could not move away from the sinful acts mentioned in verses 19-21. On our own, we could not blossom forth with the fruits of the Spirit listed in verses 22&23.
Paul gives up hope that the impossible is possible:
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” Galatians 5:16 NIV
We all fall short of living by the Spirit, but God has provided forgiveness for us when we exceed the speed limit on the Christian road of life. Through Jesus, we have the forgiveness of our sins and the opportunity to start with a new road each time we ask for forgiveness.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness... if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” 1 John 1:9 and 2:1b NIV
It’s a better deal than our neighborhood is offering. Once those in authority rule that the warning sign was not heeded, the speed bumps will be installed. I wonder if they could be talked into repaving the road –at their cost–if the residents show repentance?
What are the warnings the Lord has put in your life? Are you calling on the Spirit to help you? Or have you been attempting to change in your own strength?
Linking up with Internet Cafe and Word Filled Wednesday. Just click on the button to see more photos from other participants.