Keith Wishum: Would you stop?

Published 10:11 pm Friday, September 7, 2018

A policeman stopped a motorist who had just rolled through a stop sign and was about to give him a ticket when the motorist said.
“Officer you can’t give me a ticket for that!”
“Why not?” asked the officer.
“Because although I did not stop I slowed way down and it’s almost the same.”
“But you did not stop” replied the officer, “and the sign says STOP.”
“But the way was clear, and it was safe” replied the motorist. “What’s the difference?”
At that point, the officer pulled out his baton and began pounding on the motorist’s car.
“What are you doing!” yelled the shocked motorist.
“Would you prefer that I slow down or stop?” asked the officer.
The officer was right, wasn’t he? There really is a difference between slowing down and stopping.
The same is true with sin. In our relativistic culture, it is easy to rationalize almost anything — to say that it doesn’t matter. We are tempted to modify God’s traffic signs — to change his “stop” into “yield.” We get accustomed to rolling stops and forget about stopping.
But God says, “Stop,” not “Slow down.” And, he really means it. Christians are expected to change their behavior. We are expected to actually stop doing things that are wrong.
“No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him,” we’re told (1 John 3:6). In addition, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God (1 John 3:9).
Christians cannot be satisfied with slowing down. We must not excuse ourselves with “Well, I’m not as bad as I used to be.” Slowing down is not the same as stopping.
Ask the man whose wife slowed down from two affairs a year to just one. Is slowing down good enough to him? Ask the wife whose husband slowed down from beating her every week to just once a month. Or, ask your friends if it’s OK for you to lie to them or steal from them, so long as you don’t do it very often.
It’s said that an auto mechanic once got addicted to brake fluid. He always insisted, “It’s just brake fluid. I can stop anytime.”
Can we stop? Or do we just slow down?

Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church, Americus.