WHAT DID GOD SAY ABOUT THE BACKSEAT DRIVER AND THE SNAKES
6:30a.m. My best friend Jane was driving and I was in the passenger seat. Typically, when Jane drives, I do the backseat driving. This morning was no different. The traffic was extra heavy and I could see that someone had stopped about six cars ahead of us. As Jane approached, it seemed to me she was going way too fast. I jerked up both hands, palms stretched out, at alert, signaling her to stop immediately!
Out of her mouth the words cut loud and sharp—vicious, almost: “Don’t you think I saw it? I’ve got plenty of room!” Then the angry silence; one of those silences that are fraught with tension on both sides. I wanted to defend my point of view but this time I knew better. It would have led right into a bigger argument, the kind where every sentence begins with the acidic phrase: “You ALWAYS . . ..”
Anybody who has had a very close friend for a long time, or those of you who are married, know exactly what I’m talking about with the backseat driver syndrome.
This time, though, I handled it differently. Jesus has been working with me, healing various soul wounds and delivering me from the dark sides of my personality, changing me into a better person.
Second Corinthians 3:18 tells us: “And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord.” (AMP)
The word “glory” is translated from the Greek word doxa. It means “dignity and honor.” As we look to Jesus and take His reflection as our own, among other things, we become more honorable.
In a matter of a few minutes I calmed down, got peaceful with the Lord and knew exactly what to do. I opened my mouth and said to Jane, “I’m sorry. I’m not going to do that again. You’ve never had an accident and I’m not going to be a backseat driver anymore.” As I heard the words come out of my mouth, I felt different. I had just spoken simple words and yet they were life-changing truth; they opened a door I never expected.
The Lord soon revealed to me that my backseat driving was just plain pride, mixed with a little fear. I didn’t realize it of course, but that’s what it was, PRIDE, thinking I would have done it better! Yikes!
Sometimes it’s hard to admit to the dark sides of our personalities, but if we do, and we want to be delivered from those things and the demons that cause them, we can be. Jesus said, “If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
Who would have connected pride to backseat driving, right? But there it was. We may tell ourselves we’re just trying to help, but the thought, “I’m helping” is a sneaky perversion of “I can do it better.”
Biblically, pride is a snake. Job 41 tells us: “Leviathan . . . is a king over all the children of pride” (vv. 1 and 34).
And Isaiah 27:1 calls “leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent.” In Hebrew the word “piercing” means “fleeing, escaping, bolting, noble, imposing, aristocratic, crooked, devious, corrupt, fraudulent, underhanded, deceitful and unscrupulous.” The word for “crooked” means “twisting, winding, circuitous, indirect, convoluted, labyrinthine and tortuous.”
A snake is sly. It uses camouflage to look like something it’s not. A rattlesnake blends with rocks and you would hardly know it’s there unless you knew what to look for, or you heard its rattle.
Pride is a snake that manifests in many ways. How many times have we cut someone off in mid-sentence to say what we wanted to say? That’s an indication of pride. We think what we have to say is more important than what the other person is saying.
What about when we look at our boss and think, “I could do this job much better”? Maybe that’s true, but it’s still prideful if we haven’t considered all the boss handles. Would we really do a better job at everything?
In Numbers 21 there is a great record about serpents. The Israelites had been in the wilderness a long time and “the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. And the people spake against God, and against Moses” (v. 4-5a). They started complaining, “Wherefore have ye brought us up our of Egypt, to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread [manna]” (v.5b).
Their complaining brought fiery serpents and many people were bitten and died. “Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, ‘We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us’. And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said unto Moses, ‘Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live” (vv.7-8). The fiery serpent Moses put on the pole represents Jesus on the cross. When the people who were bitten by snakes looked on it, they were healed and delivered.
It’s the same today. The only way to get rid of the leviathan snake of pride, is to look on Jesus Christ. It takes the miracle of the cross and the power of the resurrection to deliver us from the serpents that bite us.
When I realized pride was the cause of my backseat driving, I got quiet and looked immediately to the Lord for help and deliverance. He led me to first apologize, admit my sin, just like the Israelites went to Moses and admitted their sin.
Then I looked to the dunamis power of Christ, the DYNAMITE miracle-working Spirit of Christ working in me. I expected it to invade my soul—my thoughts, my emotions, my actions—so that I would have excellence of soul and do the right thing.
In the story of the serpents in Numbers, it was the soul of the Israelites that was messed up and it got them fearful, prideful and complaining, and that brought the fiery serpents. It was something in my soul that let the sneaky serpent of pride take over, but it was Christ Jesus who got it out. I’m free now to maintain my victory.