Summary: We suffer relational wrecks when we drive carelessly. Highway safety tips provide spiritual parallels for navigating relationships. One of my guys with the public works department set up some signs on the platform for this one.
“Give ‘em a Brake”
A news story out of St. Louis last year began…
"He was a loving father and loved his grandkids," Linda Heath never imagined Wednesday would mark the first time she referred to her husband of 31 years in the past tense.”
On April 26, 2006 Henry Heath was killed while directing traffic in a construction zone on Illinois Highway 162 east of St. Louis. He was struck by a trailer as a semi jackknifed trying to stop suddenly to avoid hitting pickup that had properly slowed for the work zone.
Henry’s daughter pleaded, "Pay attention to the speed limits. They are there for a reason… My kids don’t get to grow up with a grandpa because somebody wasn’t paying attention."
The National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse reports that in 2004, three people died every day nationwide in work zone crashes. The Federal Highway Administration says over 40,000 people are injured yearly in work zone accidents. That’s 110 people injured daily.
What’s the problem? We’re in a hurry – we have schedules to keep. Or we’re in to multi-tasking, and as a result don’t pay attention. Or we’re just careless – what we want matters and we’re willing to take risks.
Work zone dangers & safety tips hold some valuable lessons about managing and maintaining good relationships.
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul helps us see that because of our old sinful nature we can be pretty self-centered. We’re good to others when they’re good to us. But let them get in our way, slow us down, make things hard for us or treat us carelessly…
Then it’s easy for our sinful nature’s response mechanisms to kick into auto-pilot and we get angry, get even, and take all kinds of risks.
But in Colossians 3 Paul offers valuable help for living in better relationships. He starts the chapter pointing to healing in three dimensions: upward, inward, outward
“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God’s right… Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things here on earth… put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you.” (Col 3:1-5, NLT)
When your relationship with God is transformed (that’s the upward dimensioin)…
You are transformed (the inward dimension).
And one result – your relationships are transformed (the outward dimension).
In a work zone, construction workers are very vulnerable and drivers can be careless. That’s why we’re reminded to “Give ‘em a Brake.”
We’re all vulnerable to being hurt when people are careless. For example, it today fifteen people are kind, friendly, and give you compliments, but one person is rude, what will you remember tomorrow?
All of us are vulnerable to pain caused by each other’s recklessness.
Paul’s practical teaching shows how we can protect each other. His principles apply to all relationships but you’ll notice at the end of chapter 3 and into chapter 4 he applies them specifically to wives and husbands, children and parents, workers and bosses.
I want to focus on verses 12-15 to see how we can give each other a break and protect one another from the harm we cause if we respond recklessly out of the sinful nature.
Let’s read in unison…
Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony.
And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Colossians 3:12-15, NLT)
I visited the IDOT website where I found six safe driving tips. They’re the obvious and practical ideas you’d expect, like slow down, don’t tailgate, stay alert, obey the signs & signals. I realized there are spiritual parallels in these that help us navigate relationships. Let’s look at a few.
A. Slow Down
Be Patient, Don’t Follow Too Closely
IDOT says, “Posted speed limits are not a suggestion – they are the law. The most common crash in a work zone is a rear-end collision. Make sure you can safely stop your vehicle.”
Most accidents occur when we’re going too fast or following too closely.
Likewise, we collide with each other because we’re in high gear. When something happens, we’re quick with a reckless response.
Here are three reasons we suffer relational wrecks:
I have a schedule and must hurry. You present an obstacle. Let me ask you, what’s the speed limit on Detroit Avenue south of Farm & Fleet? It’s 45 mph. About 3 of 4 people who drive that stretch seem to think it’s 30 or 35. God uses that drive at least once a day to teach me to slow down and be patient.