If you are sitting in the left turn lane at a red light in South Florida, you can take a nap. You will not miss the light changing to a green arrow. That is because an unwritten law exists down here. The milli-second the light turns green, the fifth car in line must begin honking its horn.
This annoying practice is so prevalent that some drivers deliberately delay turning when at the front of the line. I know this is true because I have done it. I’m not proud of this, but it is the truth. I figure that somebody needs to learn patience, and I am the person in position to do the teaching.
A parallel exists between when and how we honk the horns in our automobiles to when and how we warn others who may be spiritually asleep at the wheel. As you read the following, think about the use of your spiritual horn.
When do you honk your horn?
1. At the left turn light.
This person is impatient and judgmental. Before somebody even has a chance to get going or do something, this person is being critical. It causes some (foolishly) to respond with “If I’m going to be accused, I might as well do it.” We all know judgmental people like this. They are keen to discern the motives of others before any action takes place. Nothing good comes from these critics. They are annoying.
2. To prevent an accident.
This person uses the horn for its intended person. Let’s say a car is in the lane next to you. They begin drifting into your lane or start to change lanes…right into you. Since they do not see you, you honk your horn to alert them to the danger of continuing on that path.
Spiritually, you may see somebody taking a course that will surely lead to a sinful wreck. You should not sit idly by out of the fear of being judgmental. You should sound the alarm that danger is ahead. Perhaps you have gone down the same path and know firsthand what can happen.
3. Flash your lights.
When I lived in Europe, it was illegal to honk your horn in town. Instead cars would flash their lights to signal danger. This tactic is intended to avoid disturbing people in their own homes.
This should be our normal course of action spiritually. It is like going to another person privately to discuss impending spiritual danger. It does not attract an audience of on-lookers which can prove embarrassing. Remember that your task is not to embarrass, but to turn a brother from error. If rampant sin continues after these warnings, then honking may be necessary. But always go first in private.
How do you honk?
Hopefully you will be able to enjoy your drive. Nobody will threaten your day with some dangerous act. But reality is that you will find yourself having to drive defensively. You will have to use your horn. How will you use it is the question.
1. Punching the horn down to the steering column and holding it.
We call this road rage when it involves vehicles. It is ugly behavior unless something fatal is being prevented. It is even uglier when spiritual road rage happens. The incessant spiritual brow-beater makes life miserable for everybody around them. Don’t be that person.
2. Light tap.
I respect the driver who gives a quick, light tap of their horn. They have sounded an alert without being belligerent. I am more likely to respond positively to this approach than to the annoying horn honker.
Here is how the Bible tells us to warn one another:
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
–Galatians 6:1 (ESV)
I hope you will honk your horn or flash your lights when necessary. But do so gently. Save the strong, loud honkings for when a brother or sister is living in unrepentant and blatant sin.
I would love to read your responses to this article. Feel free to post a comment below.