“The Life You Save….”

Quoted in its entirety the slogan is, “The Life You Save May Be Your Own.” 

All of our readers, no doubt, know that this slogan is used to strive to bring about more sanity in our driving habits and to keep down the mounting toll of lives that are lost daily on our highways. The slogan makes a direct appeal to the motorist to consider that he endangers his own life as well as that of others when he drives carelessly. 

And the slogan undoubtedly is concerned only with salvation in the sense of escape from physical death. It does not speak of saving in the theological sense that the word is used in Holy Writ. It has no thought of salvation from sin and guilt, death and the fierce wrath of God. No, it is concerned only with a prolongment of this life on this earth. And you will not be rebuked for asking, “And what does all this have to do with the fear of the Lord?” 

An answer might be suggested, in vindication of this matter for an article In His Fear, by pointing out that the slogan is purely one that concerns itself with earthly, carnal things. The slogan breathes nothing spiritual. It presents even a very selfish reason for driving safely. It does not stress that we are our brother’s keeper and that by carelessness we might become murderers. It does not call us to our God-given duty to seek the well-being of the neighbor. And it does not even suggest the oft-quoted “Golden Rule”: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. All this is very true. But all this still would not explain the reason for this article under the heading of In His Fear. We certainly should not drive with care simply for our own sake. But as is the case with all our activities and work, it all ought to be in His fear. And we like to write a few lines about that at this time. It is not simply a case of striving to warn you to save your earthly life. It is the far more serious matter of living to the glory of God and of using all that which He gives us as good stewards of His goods. 

Surely there is something wrong when we can laugh about our traffic violations and boast of how many tickets we were given. In His fear we hang our heads in shame when we have transgressed the law, and we flee to the cross with all our disobedience. Our sin does not become a piece of entertainment. It. does not become a thing of which we are proud. In the world you can expect such things. For the world is sold under sin. They practice evil, and as. Paul writes to the Church at Rome, they “have pleasure in them that do them.” The world looks up to the evil doer and worships him often as a hero. Men strive to set a record even in evil deeds. All they know is sin, and the fear of the Lord is not in them. But in the Church . . . .?! How sad a picture that is of covenant youth (and maybe parents and confessing members?) gloating over a record of traffic violations or of violations that were cleverly performed without being seen by the law enforcement officer. 

And let it be clearly understood that “there is no power but of God: the powers that be arc ordained of God. Whosoever resisteth therefore the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation” (Romans 13:1, 2). Traffic laws are made for the well-being of man. They are there to protect man even from his own carelessness and foolishness. And the authorities, or powers, as they are called in the King James version, have the God-given right to make laws for our driving behavior as well as for any other phase of our earthly life. When we disobey these traffic laws as well as our taxation laws, we resist the ordinance of God and oppose Him. Shall we boast about such things? Shall we laugh about it or laugh it off? Nay, not in His fear. For in these things we show utter disregard for the fifth commandment, the sixth commandment and the first commandment. We hate God and will not ascribe to Him the right to place authorities over us. We say that He may not be God alone. And we are unconcerned with His command that we do not kill. Make no mistake about it, God gives the authorities the right to make the traffic laws they deem necessary for the well-being of man. And He insists that to disobey these authorities, as well as the king on the throne, is to walk in sin. We must not keep these laws simply to avoid a fine or to prevent the loss of our right to drive a car on the highways and streets. The very fact that these authorities have that right to fine us and to take away our driver’s license, yea, the very fact that they have the right to license or refuse to give a license already indicates that they have authority from God, and to resist them is to resist God. 

And we do not have simply in mind those reckless deeds of the youth of our land when they use their cars to play such deadly games as “Chicken” and the like. No covenant youth will so play with his life. Not because he fears a violent death and severe bodily injuries. But once again exactly because he fears God and desires to keep His commandments. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And that covenant youth is wise. He sees the folly of sin in these things. But there are so many other deeds of carelessness in our driving habits that reflect our proneness to live out of His fear rather than in it. We speed through a residential district or even a school zone were children may suddenly dart out in front of us. The speed limit is clearly posted, and we know at what speed we may safely go, and over which we may not go. But our plans and purposes are more important to us than God’s ordinances and the safety of others. How many are the character traits which we reveal in our driving habits. Here surely the old slogan of “Ladies first” is wholly in discard. A driver is a driver, and a car is just another car. Nor do we say that it should be otherwise. It would be quite some confusion at the traffic light, if it had to change according to whether a man or woman sat behind the wheel at the intersection. But courtesy is so hard to find. When a man gets behind the, wheel, yea even the meek little man, and he feels the power of a mighty engine in his grasp and under his control, he almost becomes another person. He behaves so differently from what he does when he is not behind that wheel. Suddenly he feels important and he thrills at the power which he has at his command. Bravely he races in and out of the traffic pattern. He lies on the horn to make you keep your place and he jumps ahead of you when the light changes to green. Walking on the street he may not have the nerve to speak to you. In a room full of people he may retire to the quiet corners and fear to voice his opinion on any controversial matter. But get him behind the wheel and you see something in him you would not believe could be there.

And how often have we not had the experience of riding with a shrewd business man who weighs each purchase carefully and gives close attention to the small details that another might ignore. A few pennies saved here soon amount to a dollar, and over a period of time these dollars wisely invested bring in a pleasing amount of interest. Caution is the word. Ignoring none of the details is a must. And yet, when they get out on the highway they will risk that life, without which these things of material wealth have no value, by passing on hills and curves, speeding around curves, following cars and trucks so closely and at high speed that it would be impossible to stop in time, should the driver ahead suddenly make an unexpected move. 

Shall we dismiss all this as nothing more than poor driving habits? Shall we say that it is a fine display of nerves of steel and that the more cautious driver is simply being timid? Shall these be our heroes and shall we try to duplicate their driving “skill”?

Indeed all are not good drivers. And there are many, many poor drivers on the highways. All do not have the same amount of good judgment or the same skill in handling an automobile. Some will never learn to be good drivers. There is even such a thing as being too cautious, that is, one can be so overly concerned with what the other driver is doing or going to do that he fails to pay attention to his own driving and is simply confused by the host of circumstances that surround him. Such is the case when a highway driver finds that he must drive through a thickly congested area of a large city with three or four lanes of cars around him, traffic lights and signs, the noise and speed of the flow of traffic—faster than he can think. And we are not writing about driving skills or the lack of it. We are not even writing about courteous driving. What we write about is not even approached from the point of view of safe driving. What we want to leave with you is this, that you must do all things in His fear. And therefore also our driving habit? and behavior must be in His fear. 

And that surely means that we keep the laws set for us by those whom it has pleased God to set over us in this sphere. It means that here too we ask the question, Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? And we may be sure that the answer which He will give is not, “Keep the traffic laws when convenient and break them when you can get away with it, only be sure that you do not get caught. For that would bring shame to My cause and to My Church that you, a member of the body of Christ, have resisted the ordinances which I have established.” No, it will not be that! But it certainly will be in the vein of what He said through Peter about servants. They must be subject to their masters when they are froward as well as when they are good and gentle. 

We may not see the sense in some traffic laws. It may seem better to us to ignore them. A speed limit may seem quite arbitrary and entirely uncalled for at certain hours of the day. But it is the law. The authorities call it a violation when you break it. And so does God Who gave these authorities the right to make laws in their sphere of rule over us. 

The Jews thought that they had quite a point when they asked Jesus whether they ought to pay tribute to wicked, Gentile Caesar. But without going into the matter of whether the tax was called for and necessary or not, Jesus called attention to the fact that we must render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s in order to render unto God the things that are God’s. And unto God we owe that honor that we acknowledge His right to rule us also in our driving upon the highways and streets through wicked, foolish and depraved men. In His fear be sure that you do not deny that He is GOD! 

—J.A.H.