(Note: A downloadable PDF copy of this lesson is available on the last page.)
Why do you do and say things that you later regret?
So be careful. lf you are thinking, “Oh, l would never behave like that”—let this be a warning to you. For you too may fall into sin.
1 Corinthians 10:12, LB
Throughout life, I have tended to resist facing up to my sinful behavior when I was in the middle of doing it. Often, to have my sinful behavior pointed out to me was more distressing than the behavior itself. This graphically happened to me once in a manner that I will never forget.
I was speaking fervently one night on confession and repentance. After the meeting, my wife and I drove a while to our next engagement.
We stopped to spend the night in a first-class hotel. We slept on the finest mattress money could buy. In the morning we had baths and used the deodorants that the ads say you should use to promote good will. We had a good breakfast. We started out in our new, air-conditioned car, complete with stereo radio.
Humanly speaking, we had to have a good day, didn’t we? According to the sociologists, I’ve had a good secure environment, we were well educated, challenged, enjoyed good housing, good food, we were clean, and we had money. We had it made, didn’t we?
It was a beautiful day and all was friendly until we came to a crossroad leading on to the freeway. I turned toward Detroit, our destination, when my wife said, “Henry, you are going the wrong way.”
That remark burned me up. My sarcastic reply was, “Don’t you think I know where Detroit is? Look! Do you want to drive this car, or do you want me to drive this car!?”
And away we went in air-conditioned comfort. We still smelled good. We had a good breakfast under our belts, we had nice clothes, the scenery was beautiful, the car was driving smoothly, and I was furious. Telling me that I was headed in the wrong direction! I’d lived in this area for years and surely knew my directions! After all, when you feel deeply and certain about something, you ought to stick up for your convictions, shouldn’t you? She said nothing. She was to handle the road map and keep us from getting lost.
After a while we came to the first exit. A huge sign with an arrow pointed in the direction we were going. Above the arrow was the word Chicago. And that was the opposite direction from Detroit.
Now, I have a Ph.D. degree. My training is in the area of evaluating data unemotionally and accurately to produce advice based on the data. This is how I make my living; I get paid for my judgments.
I chose to ignore the sign.
Away we went, in air-conditioned comfort. We came to the next exit, which was some distance from the last one. The sign had a big arrow pointing in our direction, and above the arrow: Chicago.
Did you ever get that cold, clammy feeling after you have set someone straight that it’s possible you might be wrong? I felt myself becoming more angry at my wife and decided to try one more exit and away we went.
Can you believe that? You smile, but do you realize that you are smiling at a very sad story? What does this illustrate? The weaknesses and limitations of education. Is it not true that in a fit of anger and stubbornness, all you know can get short-circuited and you can act like a stupid fool?
A brittle, electric silence was in the air. Both of us looked straight ahead and were silent.
The next exit was the same. There was that arrow pointing to Chicago. Would you believe that I decided to try one more exit in order to give me time to figure out how to get to Detroit without turning around?
Have you ever acted like that? You know you are wrong, but, so help you, you are not going to admit it. You do everything you can to avoid admitting you are wrong. That is the way it was with me. You couldn’t have dragged me off that freeway with a tow truck!
I shared this story of my driving past exits with a close friend for his comments before submitting the manuscript for publication. He told me that I needed to reduce the number of exits that I drove past.
He said that one or two would be okay, but passing three exits would stretch my credibility and was out of the question. He pointed out that, in his opinion, it also insulted the intelligence of the reader.
I gave his suggestion serious thought and decided that his constructive comments were logical and correct. But, over the next few days, I kept thinking, “But it is a true story!” Then it hit me: My behavior only reinforces the lesson! We as Christians tend to underestimate sin’s power over our behavior. I kept the original story.