Why not speed? (pt. 2)

November 21, 2007 at 12:16 am 6 comments

Continued from my last post, here are the final two reasons why I decided to quit speeding.

2. Faithfulness in little things prepares one for faithfulness in much.

car.jpgI grant that speeding is not (usually) a very big deal. However, the insignificant decisions I make today are habit forming and affect the more significant decisions I will make later. If I cultivate a habit of faithfulness and respect and discipline in small matters today, I will reap the rewards on higher stakes issues tomorrow.

Gordon MacDonald, speaking about his temptation to leave his cross-country running team when the going got hard, shares this rebuke he received from his coach:

Every time you quit, said the coach, “‘you will have inadvertently reinforced a dangerous character trait: specifically that whenever you are faced with a challenge you don’t like, or that seems too difficult, or that asks from you too great a sacrifice, you will find it easier and easier to walk away from it’…in other words, to quit.” (A Resilient Life, 3-4)

By contrast, each time a runner presses forward to the finish, it gives him that much more stamina to finish the next, harder race.

The same is true in matters of obedience: practicing disobedience to law in small matters cultivates a habit of carelessness with respect to law (whether civil or moral), deadening the conscience. Showing disrespect for a particular civil authority makes it that much easier to fudge on moral precepts as well.

3. It is surprisingly comforting to live within the limits of the law.

This last reason is purely practical, but significant nonetheless.

When I first decided to stop speeding, it was hard to make myself go the speed limit. I fought myself constantly and felt very stressed about disciplining myself to go slower.

Something strange happened after a few weeks, though. Once I developed a habit of going the speed limit, I felt far more relaxed than I had before. I was no longer rushed or pressured to get to wherever I was going; the discipline of going the speed limit was surprisingly liberating.

There’s probably a theological lesson there: The irony is that human nature tends to chafe against law, yet it is unexpectedly comforting to live within the law’s limits. As Gordon MacDonald observes, “We are most free when we are under discipline” (151).

The added benefit? I save a lot on speeding tickets, too.

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Why not speed? Not saved, but being saved

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rick Beckman  |  November 21, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    Linked to this from my blog, but I did want to comment and say thanks for the reflections. It’s amazing how easy it is to forget the simple truth of #2.

    #3 is greatly encouraging.

    God bless.

    Reply
  • 2. keithwhitfield  |  November 25, 2007 at 11:49 am

    Jamie:
    I found your blog via Rick Beckman. I wholeheartedly agree with you. In fact, I came to a very similar conclusion some time back (I’m guessing I’m probably 20 years older than you–judging from the your profile pic–which doesn’t necessarily make me wiser, just older!). Anyway, I’ve also included in my “law-abiding repertoire”–coming to a complete stop at “Stop” signs. It drives people crazy when they ride with me, but I do it for the same reasons I don’t speed.

    Reply
  • 3. Jamie  |  November 25, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    Thanks to all for the positive feedback on these two posts. I find it surprising that no one has taken issue with my position, but I’m not going to complain about the lack of rotten tomatoes!

    Reply
  • 4. Charles Churchill  |  November 26, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    This is a great series, Jamie.

    I find it surprising that no one has taken issue with my position

    As Christ said, “it is hard to kick against the pricks.” I think most Christians prefer not to think about these issues because once they are confronted with it, it becomes clear very quickly that they are wrong.

    One other thing I would add to your post is that anyone who is a parent or an authority figure themselves (and in some way, we almost all are) that speeds is testifying against their own authority by doing so. There are many Christian parents who go so far as to involve their children in their speeding, training them to help them look for police officers and radar traps. I wonder if they realize what they are teaching their children? “Hey, anything you can get away with is ok” and “when I’m not around, I don’t expect you to do what I tell you – or what God tells you for that matter!!”…

    It’s kind of scary.

    Thanks for the post,
    Charles

    Reply
  • 5. Jamie  |  November 26, 2007 at 11:48 pm

    Charles: It is true that it is hard to kick against the pricks; however, I actually have a small bit of sympathy with the idea that keeping the law to the T is a bit legalistic.

    After all, the point is not whether we go 56 in a 55; the point is that we should respect the speed limit because it is there to promote our safety and the harmonious working of society.

    On the other hand, attention to detail is important here as in many other areas of life. While I would agree with my critics who would say that too much focus on the letter of the law is legalistic, I don’t think that argument is justification for knowingly breaking the law.

    Reply
  • 6. Jamie  |  November 26, 2007 at 11:49 pm

    P.S. Excellent point about parents undermining their own authority when they speed.

    Reply

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Profile

profile.jpgI am working on my M.A. in Religion at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Besides having a big interest in theology, history, ethics, and the deep stuff of life, I am also very fond of Mediterranean food, snow, and the color red.

Email me: jamie.kiley@gmail.com

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