Henry Ford pioneered the production of cars in America, but he didn’t invent the modern automobile. That honor is usually given to a man whose name is also legendary in car history, the German Karl Benz. While Henry Ford’s Model-T began rolling off the assembly line in Detroit in 1908, Karl Benz’s three-wheeled car was granted a patent and produced in 1885.

I had to smile when I read this next historical tidbit. Karl Benz built his car in Germany in 1885, and guess what was invented just three years later in 1888? Not the horn, the cup holder, the padded steering wheel, or the CD player, but the speedometer! (Ladies, bear with me—this speed thing is mostly a guy thing.) It only took three years before “the need for speed” gave birth to the speedometer, called then by its inventor, the Croatian Josip Belušić, a velocimeter.

My immediate question was, Why did they need to know how fast they were going just three years after the car was invented? I’m guessing there were no state troopers with radar guns in Croatia in 1888. Actually, there was probably very little speed at all, the first cars puttering along at only a few miles per hour. Let’s just chalk up the invention of the speedometer to man’s inventive nature.

Actually, our need to know our speed applies to many areas of life. We humans are inveterate counters. We always want to know how far, how fast, how big, and how much—especially compared to the other guy. But there’s one dimension of speed that is even more important than our miles per hour: the speed of our life relative to our spiritual needs.

I see two kinds of speed limit signs on America’s freeways: the maximum speed and the minimum speed. Not only is it dangerous to go too fast in life, it’s also dangerous to go too slow.

Too Fast? Slow Down!

For most of us, our problem is not moving too slow for our own spiritual good. Our problem is we’re moving too fast to build our relationship with God on a daily basis.

When I think about how fast we are moving through life, I think about how the English Bible translator J. B. Phillips rendered Romans 12:2: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within.” We have become full-fledged citizens of the American lifestyle where “the faster we go, the behinder we get,” as Lewis Carroll put it. We are exceeding a speed limit that produces a healthy, balanced, and mature spiritual life. When we take a moment to look in our spiritual rearview mirror, we see the Lord Jesus looking at our receding taillights, wondering if we’ll make time to sit and fellowship with Him tomorrow.

Don’t get me wrong—I know we are all busy. I certainly am, and I have to overcome the same daily temptation that you do to speed through my day without setting aside time for God. And it’s not just daily devotions for which we’re moving too fast. Some Christians can’t slow down long enough to attend church, meet with a home fellowship group, attend a spiritual conference, or read a good Christian book that would deepen their walk with Christ.

Too Slow? Speed Up!

If some Christians are moving too fast, others are moving too slow—they’re like the sluggard in Proverbs 6: “I need time to rest and plan; I’ll spend time with the Lord and attend church when my life is more organized.” Their symptoms are the same as the person who is going too fast: no devotional time with God, no prayer and Bible study, and no involvement with the body of Christ.

What is the perfect speed for a healthy and balanced spiritual life? I can’t give you a number, but I can give you signposts: joyful contentment, growth in Christlikeness, increasing knowledge of Scripture, service for Christ, a vibrant, up-to-date testimony, and fruitful, biblically-based relationships with family and friends. Slow down or speed up and reach these godly goals.

Check-Up Challenge: Check your speedometer today to see how you’re spending your time. Make and take time for God.