Eldon Peterson

Recently the truth of the expression the “weakest link” has been evident to me. For a variety of reasons, we’ve needed to replace seven tires on our vehicles due to unrepairable flats and tire failures. Certainly, there are more important parts to our vehicles than tires, but recently tires have been our weakest link.

It began with both of our cars picking up nails in new construction by our house. Then, when hauling a horse trailer to Oregon and back to move our daughter, two truck tires tread separated (at different times) and one new trailer tire needed to be replaced.

Replacing tires is never easy, but having to replace relatively new tires is especially hard. The car tire and the trailer tire had less than 1,000 miles on them; the truck tires, less than 10,000.

After I had replaced the first truck tire, the shop examined the other three tires and seeing no problems, we were back on the road. When the second truck tire’s tread separated on the way home, I heeded the shop’s advice and replaced the remaining tires even though they appeared good. We replaced seven tires altogether in a matter of two months.

Experiences like this illustrate how bad things can happen even when everything looks good. The body is fine, the engine is purring, but there is a slow leak that we hadn’t noticed that will eventually make it impossible for us to complete our journey. For us, that slow leak may be a persistent sin or a doubt of worthiness that is holding us back from getting where we believe God desires us to be.

Jesus says the problem may be a divided heart. “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)

As with my tires, the problems may not be visible until we are weighed down. Then, under a load, things soon fall apart. What can we do? Listen to and trust in the counsel of scripture.

I could have ignored the advice to replace the tires; put air in them and hoped for the best. But of course, I wouldn’t have gotten very far. I needed to replace them even though there was tread life remaining. As obvious as this may be with tires, it can be less obvious in our lives. We convince ourselves that we can do it, we can make ourselves worthy, we just need to try harder!

But experience tells us that our effort will never be enough. What God requires from us is beyond what we can do, “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20) So what is the answer? To apply the principles learned from my tires — we must throw the old away and put on the new. We must be born again.

When hearing Jesus’ words, we may be tempted to think that surely there must be something redeemable, something worth holding onto in our old lives. But Jesus says no. If we want to receive the new life he died to bring us, we must stop trying to patch up our lives poxed by sin. We must be made new. Paul tells us, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

If you can relate to my tire woes or something similar, you know the desperate place we can find ourselves in when that weak link breaks. Just as we are wise to heed the counsel of the mechanic concerning our tires, we are wise to consider Christ’s words concerning our need to be made new, born again.

Rather than trying to patch up our lives with works of righteousness, we need to “lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2) If we do not, we cannot finish the race, we will be encumbered like a car with a flat tire. For most, self-righteousness is the weakest link that prevents them from resting in Christ.

To rest in Christ, we must die to self, place our trust in him and be born again. Then, we will not only be able to run the race but finish it, gaining eternal life.

Eldon Peterson is pastor of the Cache Valley Bible Fellowship. He can be reached at by.faith@outlook.com.