I believe East Tennessee is one of the worst places in the world for people not to use their turn signals. Every morning I arrive at an intersection that 99% of the traffic turns right onto the road in which I am leaving. The amount of cars turning is almost constant and only about 20% are signaling their intentions. This makes it difficult to exit in fear of pulling out into oncoming traffic. When you are driving signal your intention. Don't be selfish!
Why do people not use their turn signals? I believe it is an interesting picture of the lives of many Christians. When you are driving down the road, and you want to make a right turn and you don’t turn on your signal. You are selfish. You are self centered. You are self seeking. Basically, it is saying I don’t care what your needs are, all I care about is where I am going and how long it takes me to get there. I don’t care if you have to wait all day long to get out of that neighborhood; I am still doing my thing.
Does that sound selfish to you? Let's look at it a different way. Let's say that you are sitting in your car and attempting to turn out of your neighborhood and there are 100 cars coming and all of them are turning right into your neighborhood; but none of them had their turn signals on. How would that make you feel? Would you get angry? Would you become discouraged? Sitting there 20 minutes attempting to leave your neighborhood would that be depressing? How about if you had to be somewhere soon?
Turn signals, it has the potential to tell others who you care about. James deals with the subject of favoritism in chapter 2 verses 1-13:
My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called? If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by othe law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. [The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. Jas 2:1-13]
James is talking to Christians and the first thing he is telling them is not to show favoritism. We need to be courteous to everyone. If your turn signal is flashing you are being courteous to the person behind you. You are telling them that you are getting ready to slow down and turn. You don’t want them running into the back of your car do you? Nor do they want to run into the back of you. Signaling your turn also tells the person on the intersecting street that you are turning and may offer a time for them to be able to exit their street. It is just courteous to everyone.
When we are in our schools or we are at our jobs we also need to be courteous to others. We need to not just be courteous to those who we want to be around. Just because a person wears a lot of jewelry or has the best of clothes does not mean that they are the best of people. However, for some reason we treat others in that manner.
James gives an example of those coming into a synagogue. To the one who is rich and wearing nice clothes they are given the nice place to sit. Maybe it is the comfy place to sit. Maybe it is up front where they can hear. Maybe it is next to royal authority. Then James introduces the individual to a person who is wearing filthy clothes and obviously has no money. Do we give him the nice place to sit too? No we ask him to stand "over there" or we give them a seat of a servant.
Unfortunately our daily actions accomplish the same thing. Sometimes we ignore those who don’t have much and buddy up to those who seem to have it all. If we pay close attention we will see that James provides some interesting insight to that problem.
James says "listen up" to what I am about to say. He refutes any gospel that says that those with God's blessing will be financially rewarded. James questions "has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him". If the wealth gospel (being preached by so many today) was true then the faithful would not be poor.
James goes on to say that we have dishonored the poor man. We have served him injustice. We have led him to sorrow. We have made him discouraged. We have opened the door for him to be depressed. To claim to have dishonored someone is a serious claim. People like to feel as if they have worth. When we go the route of dishonoring someone then we take away that sense of value.
James says that we need to care about everyone. Let's go back to the turn signal issue again. 100 cars turning into the road that you are on and very few signal. It is no wonder that so many people respond with anger. When there is no feeling of worth, people deal with the issue in surprising ways. Using your turn signals tells others that you care about them. How you treat them tells them how much value you believe that they have.
James mentions the Royal Law. The “royal law” was given in Leviticus 19:18 and affirmed by Christ (Matt. 22:39): Love your neighbor as yourself. The law is royal or regal (basilikon, from basileus, “king”) because it is decreed by the King of kings, is fit for a king, and is considered the king of laws." [John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985), 2:824-825.]
James says that breaking this law is sin. If I treat one better than another because of favoritism, I have sinned. That is a big statement. He further says they will be judged in the law of liberty. Obeying God's Will brings freedom or liberty. Disobeying God's Will brings bondage or slavery. Disobeying will ultimately bring judgment.
So, how do we treat others? We are to be courteous, we are to care, and we are to consistently love them, just as Christ loves us.
By they way, the Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-8-143(a) states:
Every driver who intends to start, stop or turn, or partly turn from a direct line, shall first see that such movement can be made in safety, and whenever the operation of any other vehicle may be affected by such movement, shall give a signal required in this section, plainly visible to the driver of such other vehicle of the intention to make such movement.
I hope that every time you use your turn signal you remember our discussion of favoritism.