I have done it several times, always expecting something to happen but nothing does. I have “kicked” my tires –and those that belong to others, hoping to understand why people “kick tires”. I have learned nothing whatsoever.
This failure to grasp anything from kicking a tire is my doing. I suppose I knew it meant to “make a quick and superficial inspection; do cursory checking”, but I had no idea of the term’s origin. It came from a time when car tires were made of thin rubber, and kicking them was a way to “double check” their quality before purchase (wiktionary.org).
Consider an example from the realm of financial investment. Investors are encouraged to kick the tires of a potential investment by analyzing all that can be known (annual reports, management philosophy, etc.) “before putting any money into it”.
The phrase “kick the tires” was used as a quality test. To take the matter into the spiritual realm, I wonder how many of us “kick” our tires in terms of our own spiritual quality. Perhaps we would reflect Christ better in our lives if we took inventory of ourselves from time to time.
Evaluation of Self is Necessary
Timothy is reminded of his duties as an evangelist in Ephesus to live as a “good servant of Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 4.6). Paul writes:
Practice these things, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Tim. 4.15-16 ESV)
Notice how the Spirit through Paul emphasizes personal responsibility.
The language vividly portrays that a sustained life in cultivation (meleta) and devotion (isthi) of godly living (v. 15) is fundamental to the Christian life; moreover, he must hold himself under the aim of self scrutiny (epecho).
Spiritual growth is the result of an active spiritual pursuit; it is not an accidental realization. How are those tires? Have you kicked them yet?
In Matthew 5-7 the first of five major discourses of Jesus are recorded. Commonly styled, “The Sermon on the Mount”, in it the good teacher emphasizes structuring our lives upon proper spiritual priorities.
When we deal with the ultimate expressions of our inner passions (e.g. anger, lust, retaliation, vanity, being anxious) bred within the heart (cf. 15.10-11), we may do a great deal to minimize their influence if we have the proper priorities.
For example, the tendency to stress about the daily necessities of food, clothing, and shelter may breed an attitude of distrust in the providential care offered by the Father (6.30); instead, Jesus teaches clearly that His Father rewards those who “seek first the kingdom of God” (6.33).
Making “the kingdom” the funnel by which we make our decisions, frame our behavior, and guide our thinking is a vital spiritual responsibility (cf. 7.21-27). Time to kick our tires again, how do they fare?
Other Kingdom Priorities that Matter
Assembling Priorities (Acts 2.46-47; 1 Cor. 11.33; Heb. 10.24-25)
Are we faithful to the assemblies of our own local congregation, or do we find convenient excuses for failing to gather with the saints?
Moral Improvement (1 Pet. 3.10-12; Col. 3.1-9, 12-15; 1 Thess. 4.9-12)
Do we engage in questionable behavior? Are we better at the “con” than we are in our conversion?
Financial Stability (1 Cor. 16.1-2; Acts 4.32-37; Eph. 4.28; 1 Thess. 4.11)
Are we more invested in our luxuries (cable TV, etc.), so that we are unable to properly give upon the first day of the week (1 Cor. 4.2; Hag. 1.3-6)?
Compassionate Living (Eph. 4.28; Phil. 2.3-4; Acts 3.1-10; 24.17; Phlm. 17-20)
Do we help others, sharing the physical and spiritual grace of the gospel, or do we treat those in need with distrustful hostility (Lev. 19.18; Luke 10.25-37)?
So…. How do your tires fare?
- Robert L. Chapman and Barbara Ann Kipfer, 1998, American Slang, 2d edition (Repr. New York, N. Y.: Collins, 2005), 301.
- “Kicking the Tires,” Investopedia.com (Accessed: 1 Jan. 2013).
- Walter Bauer, et. al, 1979, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 2d edition (Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press), 285.