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Contributor: Illustration Exchange
Scripture: Galatians 6:1
Published: “Headlight flashing OK, Missouri judge says” by JIM SALTER, Associated Press, published Yahoo.com, 2/6/14

We’ve all done it: Flashed our own lights at an oncoming vehicle which has yet to turn on its own lights, or to warn of upcoming poor road conditions like standing water or a lane obstruction. But when it comes to flashing our lights to warn oncoming traffic of a speed trap, we have cause for pause. Maybe we’re afraid to intervene because the warning is considered illegal in many states. Or maybe we think the guy speeding toward us deserves to get caught–it would serve him right!

Either way, a federal court in Missouri has now ruled that penalizing drivers for the headlight flash violates their First Amendment right to free speech. “The order,” reports the Associated Press, “stems from a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri on behalf of Michael Elli. On Nov. 17, 2012, Elli flashed his headlights to warn oncoming vehicles of a radar set up by Ellisville police.”

So what’s so wrong about warning drivers of impending consequences? Well, if you’re the police, the warning may rob you of meeting your quota for speeding tickets. If you’re the municipality in which the warning takes place, you may be robbed of your income from the offender’s fees and fines. But if you’re the offender who receives and heeds the warning, you have everything to gain.

The Missouri judge, in his ruling, said that the flashing of headlights was essentially a good thing, sending “a message to bring one’s driving in conformity with the law — whether it be by slowing down, turning on one’s own headlamps at dusk or in the rain, or proceeding with caution.”

Application:

What’s your excuse for not warning a brother or sister of impending consequences for their reckless behavior. Maybe you’re simply afraid to intervene–afraid of getting involved in a sticky situation. Or maybe you think they deserve what’s coming–it would serve them right!

Maybe we should all approach a fair warning to an erring brother like the federal judge in Missouri, considering a warning essentially a good thing, sending a message to bring another’s behavior into conformity with God’s law, sparing them and others of the harmful consequences. In the end, when we help others safely and cautiously navigate the roads of life, we all have something to gain.

“Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself” (Galatians 6:1, NLT).

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