Looney Tunes use to air cartoons with characters who were strictly instructed not to press the big, red button in front of them. After moments of solitude the character would usually peak around every corner, wipe the sweat from his brow and then press the button! What usually followed was an explosion created by our old cartoon friend TNT. Yesterday I was casually taking corners in my car when I approached one of the big, red buttons. After peering around the corner, I defiantly pressed down my accelerator only to be met with an unexpected explosion.
Now at this point you may be thinking, "Is this guy going to use his blog to whine about the laws of the land, what a waste of public domain?!" Rest easy because the story only gets better. As I did my best impression of Lindsey Lohan rolling through stop signs on Hollywood blvd., I failed to see the giant SUV careening towards the left side of my car. I quickly accelerated to avoid being hit but soon realized, with great relief, I had plenty of time to get out the way. As I moved parallel to the SUV, an angry Mom behind the wheel of a suburban tank took a swipe at me with her car. I probably should have kept driving but I was curious as to why she was so upset; so I rolled down my window to ask what was the matter? My decision was about as wise as deciding to explore the second floor of a dark house in a horror movie.
Before I could utter word one, the young Mother starting use all sorts of seven-letter words to describe me and my driving skills. I was threatened, called several creative names and then she finally drove away as my mouth hung wide open. Immediately my mind starting racing with multiple comments I could have shot back at her to defend my cause, but what was the use? The incident was over and I felt like crap. When I waited tables I would get trampled on some nights, but I don't recall ever being called an a--hole. Even for an ex-waiter with relatively thick skin I was unnerved by the whole incident.
Why do we immediately grow defensive when we have been busted for wrongs committed? I kept trying to tell myself not to get angry with the woman because I would only be "answering a fool according to [her] folly" (Prov. 26:4). However, another question continued to plague me: Why are we surprised when people break the law? When it comes to driving we are always upset when people don't obey the rules of the road. Some of us will consequently slam on our breaks if we are being "tailed," cut people off because they had done the same to us and employ countless other tactics in order to play police. Are we really shocked when transgressions of the law increase wherever the law is found (Ro. 5:20)?
What I felt yesterday was death. I had been slaughtered by the malicious name calling of another and I wanted to respond back with the same. How do we break this cycle? When someone crosses you during your day how do you avoid wrongly reciprocating? For those who have trusted in the redemptive work of Jesus, we have the Spirit of Him who fulfilled the law to help us. Colossians 2:14 tells us that Jesus made us alive, "having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross..." The law, albeit it good and holy, is too much for us to bear. Try as we may to enforce it or even live by it, we don't add up and it can only breed death as we defy daily.
Everything in us, what Paul calls our flesh, cries to defy. The Spirit with which we are baptized when we receive the free gift of grace sets us free from the law (Gal. 5:18). We then have the opportunity to break the cycle of frustration and death in our daily living when we submit to the Spirit's conviction and leading. The fruit, or production, of the Spirit is something which is free from the law's condemnation (Gal. 5:23). So when we ask to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:17-18) of God, we are asking to be filled with life and freedom from dragging around the burden of our blunders.
Allow other people to fail you today and allow yourself to fail. Don't seek sin so that forgiveness and grace may abound (Ro. 6:1), but seek forgiveness instead. Attempting to "be good" all of the time or live up to everyone's standards will result in slavery to others and to the law you are trying to meet. "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery" (Gal. 5:1).