I’m a true law-abiding citizen.
Most of the time.
I’ll freely admit to taking liberties with the speed limits on several roads.
Posted speeds are suggestions. I operate under the belief that if you go over the speed limit by 9, you’re still operating within appropriate parameters.
In my defense, I pretty much go with the flow. I’m intentional about not being the fastest car on the road.
I drive a little fast. Doesn’t everybody?
When I run into those flashing speed limit signs that show my current speed, however, I have issues. Isn’t it enough to remind me what the appropriate speed limit is without posting how fast I’m going–and everyone around me? As if the sign is attempting to shame me in front of others.
It obviously doesn’t bother me enough to change my driving habits. If I felt actual shame, I’d slow down. Not be bothered by how fast everyone was whipping around me. I’d be doing the right thing, making the better choice.
This is where I get into trouble. There are times I justify in my mind why I’m choosing to do something I know is not quite right. I’m not robbing a bank or holding someone at gun point. It’s more like telling a white lie so I won’t hurt someone’s feelings. Gossiping with a friend about another person because I’ve got some juicy information to share. Choosing to withhold information because I don’t want to get in trouble.
I can justify my actions because they’re no big deal. Nobody is really the wiser. None of these choices are earth shattering, life ending or character destroying.
They’re just wrong.
It’s me pushing the envelope. Taking something too far because I’m quite certain I can get away with it. No one will really get hurt.
The problem is that if I can justify a little bad choice now, how long will it be before I’m justifying much bigger bad choices? What will it take for me to say enough is enough?
Often, it’s getting caught.
One speeding ticket. Getting caught in the lie. Having the person find out I gossiped about them and losing the relationship. Finding out the information I withheld could have helped someone, and instead someone was hurt.
I had a teacher years ago who used to say, “An error is so much worse than a mistake.” I never understood what she meant.
I do now.
An error is a miscalculation, not thinking through a situation soundly. A mistake is an accident waiting to happen.
Errors escalate. Moving from bad choice A to bad choice B is a small error. In no time, if I’m not careful, I’m at bad choice P. An action or attitude I’d never have chosen in the beginning.
The human condition. Escalating bad choices.
I got caught by Jesus. He saw my actions and attitudes and called them what they were–sin.
Then He died for them. Cleaning my slate with an eternal swipe of love. And bloodied nails driven deep into His sinless hands and feet.
No shame here.
Just really grateful I got caught.