As we traveled home from a glorious vacation this past week, I noticed the radical change in road trips from the time when I was growing up. My parents did a lot of driving on various family vacations, but I do not remember having as many close calls as we did on our recent trip. People today are not very courteous nor do they signal when they attempt to change lanes. The only way to describe their driving is aggressive as if they are mad at someone. Several times we were nearly run off the road by people who tried to cut between us and the car in front of us when there was no room. I know we are not the only ones that experience this kind of thing. However, looking back at my childhood trips, it seemed that people were more patient and aware of fellow travelers. In fact, there are many areas where we can observe how the tone of our society has changed.
On a shopping trip, not long ago, I listened as a customer berated a cashier for the pricing of a certain product. The cashier patiently explained what the special was and how this product did not qualify. Nothing satisfied the customer. After further argumentation she stormed out of the store vowing to tell everyone how bad this business was to those who do business there. I could not help but feel sorry for the cashier as she was just doing her job. She had no control over policy; yet she took all the of the anger from the customer. I complimented her on her kindness to this person. I know what it is like to be on the receiving end of someone's rant. Still the question remains. What on earth are people thinking when they drive aggressively or take their anger out on a store clerk? What has happened to civility, good manners, kind words and looking out for our fellow man?
Reading Scripture today, I came across a verse that seemed to answer that question in so many ways. It comes from 2 Timothy 3:1-4: "There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." Well, that about covers it all doesn't it? Paul never minces words in what he writes by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Now I cannot say that these are the "last" days as no one knows, but God, when the end of time will come. Nevertheless, I have lived long enough to see how our society has radically changed over the years. What was unheard of twenty or thirty years ago is often a regular occurrence now like the example of the cashier in the store. At the root of all of these behaviors, though, is sin. There is no other explanation, and unfortunately, we are all infected with this problem of the heart. We are selfish, and there is only one remedy that can set us free. Only by confessing our sins and acknowledging our need for Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior can we receive a new heart by God's grace. At that moment, not only does God give us a new heart, but He also gives us His Holy Spirit to guide us as well. Does that mean we will never lose our temper in a store or on a highway? No. I wish I could say that was the case. However, we do begin to change.
As the Holy Spirit works in us, He produces the fruit of righteousness within us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. This is a big difference from the description in 2 Timothy 3:1-4. Our goal and target is to be conformed more to Christ than to the world as believers. The good news is that God is the one doing the work within us as we surrender to Him day by day. I don't want to be like those drivers we encountered on our trip nor do I want to hurt another person with angry words over a product in a store. Rather I want to demonstrate the love of Christ in what I say and do. Therefore, let us strive to live as examples of light to those who are living and working in great darkness. The times have changed and not for the better, but we are to be of good cheer because our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has overcome the world....and by His blood, we too shall be more than conquerors through Him. Selah!