Odometer comes from the Greek words hodos, meaning “path,” and metron, meaning “measure.” It’s a device to measure the distance traveled. The idea dates from Alexander the Great, who wanted to know how much of the world he had conquered. He measured the routes, and historians marvel at how his soldiers managed to calibrate the distances with precision.
In Roman times, geographers invented a way to measure mileage by counting the rotation of chariot wheels. Chinese inventors developed a similar method for counting revolutions using a bell or drum to sound each turn of the wheel.
The first automotive odometer dates to 1903, when two Wisconsin brothers, Arthur and Charles Warner, patented their “Auto-meter.” It used a magnet to mark the rotation of a shaft, providing an accurate accounting of distance. Now, of course, GPS systems are getting into the act. In California where I live, the state house is alarmed that tax revenues are falling because the increasing number of alternative-energy cars bypasses the large gas taxes at the pumps. So officials are considering using GPS odometers to track and tax vehicles by the mile, not by the tank.
Odometers indicate progress. If you had an odometer on the dashboard of your soul allowing God to track your mileage, how far would He say you’ve come? The Bible uses analogies like this, as when Jesus called the Christian life a “narrow road’ and the New Testament writers referred to Christianity as “the Way” (Matthew 7:14; Acts 9:2). Isaiah 35:8 refers to “the Highway of Holiness” in which we should walk. How far are you down that road? If you had an odometer on your soul, what would it say?
The writer of Hebrews might have asked that question had he lived in our time. Wanting to take his readers deeper in the Scripture, he intended to give them the “solid food” of the rich truths of God’s Word about the high priesthood of Christ. But he wasn’t sure they wanted to hear it. “You have become dull of hearing,” he admonished. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God” (Hebrews 5:11-14). In the plain rendering of The New Living Translation: “So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding” (Hebrews 6:1).
Some people—even some teachers and preachers—never stray far from familiar texts and uplifting verses and quaint stories and sentimental clichés. But the Bible says we should live “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”; and the apostle Paul told us that all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable (Matthew 4:4; 2 Timothy 3:16, emphasis added). The Bible tells us to “grow up in all things into Him,” and to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 4:15; 2 Peter 3:18).
We need the entire Bible for the entire trip of life. We should understand God’s Word—even the less familiar passages—more this year than last. We should display more of the fruit of the Spirit, should be more loving, should have more joy and patience than a year ago. Our prayer lives should be a little steadier, our faith a little more steadfast, our witness a little sharper. We should have greater victory over temptation and a stronger resolve against the sins that so easily beset us. Our temperament should be sweeter and our testimony brighter.
Has there been measurable growth in your Christian life?
Let’s make some progress! Unlike a car, the higher the reading on our spiritual odometer, the more valuable we are in wisdom, experience, and knowledge. High-mileage Christians are classics in God’s sight. Make sure your maturity matches your mileage, and praise God that as we travel the Highway of Holiness each turn of the wheel brings us a little closer Home.
Check-Up Challenge: If the Christian life is a thousand-mile trip, with the first mile being salvation and the last being a perfected soul in heaven, on what mile are you? Take an honest look at your progress. How can the odometer of your soul display a more encouraging readout?
David Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point for God, and serves as Senior Pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.
For more information about Turning Point, go to www.DavidJeremiah.org.