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15 September 2012

20 Items Or Less

A while back I was driving toward an odd five-way intersection and was about to make a left turn. I put my blinker on and waited for the police car coming toward me in the other lane to pass by. To my surprise, without using his blinker, the policeman slowed for what seemed like an eternity and made a right turn onto the road I was waiting to turn onto. Without sarcasm (to my wife's surprise and to my own), I said to my wife, "Hey, he didn't use a blinker. And look! He's talking on the phone!"

Very uncool.

As I was on my way to a church meeting one Sunday morning (also a while back), chugging along at the speed limit, a car zoomed past me, shattering the speed limit. The driver was dressed well, and given the time of day and the fact that we live in the Bible Belt, it's a moderately safe assumption that he was on his way to church services somewhere. I'm not stating that he was; just saying that it's probable.

I'm too critical -- this I know. However, in both cases above, I'm likely not the only person who'd notice that something was at least slightly awry.

All those reading are probably familiar with Jesus' parable of the talents in Matthew 25. There are a couple of points that are super-important. First, we're expected by God to be good stewards of the title "Christ-follower" and all that it includes. Second (not mentioned in the parable, so thereby not to be taken as the words of Jesus, but as my own) people are watching to see what we do. I should interject that I really need to give my two example people the benefit of the doubt, and I do, but they were perfect examples for this post. The cop may have been dealing with a personally stressful situation on the phone, and the speeding car could have been driven by a guy on his way to see his lady friend or something.

Following is a very short list of the kinds of things that the Christ-follower should never say. Legalist thinking? Not in my opinion.


  • "I know I have 37 items in my basket, but this 'express' line at Chaos-Mart is shorter than the only other one that's open, so I'll use it anyway."
  • "He won't ever know the difference."
  • "I just don't feel convicted to obey the speed limit."
  • "He needs to be taught a lesson." (...when uttered with a malicious heart. Otherwise, this one's permissible and can possibly be adviseable sometimes.)

These thoughts and others like them lead to wrong behavior -- behavior that people will observe. Even if we somehow don't consider the resulting actions to be destructive to our walk with Christ, that they can, and very likely will, wind up being destructive to our witness.

"Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world." (1 Peter 2:12, NLT)

Ripping off my own writing, this is a repost of "Obeying '20 Items or Less'" from EGBDF in 2008. Image above by Shaun Ellsworth, copyright The San Bernadino County Sun

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