Last month we drove to Colorado for our daughter's wedding. It was a long drive and there was a major snow storm. But it was incredibly beautiful. We were on major highways and in some places less traveled roads. But one sign I saw quite often was one that said "Pass with Care". Often it was not a divided highway and there were hills and curves and you wanted to make sure you had a good opening if you were going to pass a slower vehicle.
That got me to thinking about the scripture in Matthew 12:36 which says, "But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give accounting for it in the day of judgement." I try to be careful what I say. I used to curse when I was younger and before I knew the Lord. I used to say whatever came to mind, regardless of how it would affect other people. But with time and maturity it became easier to do as the old adage says, and think before I spoke. So on the outside I seemed a pretty good person.
But, what I sometimes 'thought' of others was a different matter. You know how you can see someone who has hurt you in the past and let your thoughts just get going like a runaway freight train...they did this, they said that, those dirty lousy so-and-so's. Or you make a snap judgement of someone you don't even know, based on appearance or something else trivial. Well, in the kingdom of God, that is the same as saying those things out loud and with all malice.
In Matthew 5 when Jesus is giving the Sermon on the Mount, he talks about heart-attitudes. In verses 21 and 22 He says, "You have heard it said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgement: But I say unto you that whosoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of the judgement." And then in verses 27 and 28 He says, "Ye have heard it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say to you that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her committed adultery with her already in his heart."
Now it is no longer only the act that is wrong, it is dwelling on those thoughts that can lead to the act.
Now it is not only saying things out loud, careless words that can hurt or wound or demean someone; it is thinking those thoughts at all.
We are called to think higher thoughts. To guard our hearts and minds from those things that can lead to sin. For us as Christians, it is not only acting as Christ would, but thinking as Christ would. It is bringing ourselves and our thoughts in line with God's word and how He has taught us to think and act. 2 Corinthians 10:5, "Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."
For myself, as I saw all those signs on those roads, it caused me to do some soul-searching. Yes, maybe outwardly I acted rightly, but inwardly, and where the Lord could still see, I wasn't thinking in a Godly manner. I have said before that I tend to be a worrier. I also tend to think on the past and hurts that have been inflicted on me and then I dwell on those things and my thoughts turn to places that the Lord would not have me go. So it is catching it at that first thought that crosses my mind. Not letting it snowball into an avalanche of thoughts that lead deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole. It is catching those thoughts right away and replacing them with thoughts of who I am in Christ and in turn how I should think, knowing that the Holy Spirit dwells in me.
It is passing with care...not just the words that pass my lips but the thoughts that pass the threshold of my mind. It is like driving on that road and looking to see what is ahead...can I pass with care without causing an accident...can I let those thoughts pass without causing major damage. That is my goal, to navigate this life and bring glory to my Father in heaven, in both thought and deed. To pass with care.