“A shrewd person sees danger and hides himself, but the naive keep right on going and suffer for it.” Proverbs 22:3 (NET)
WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE.
We do something we know we shouldn’t do. We can see disaster coming, yet we persist doggedly in doing something that, even while we’re doing it, we know is wrong.
Sometimes, it’s as little as eating an extra doughnut; other times it’s cheating on our income taxes, gambling money we don’t have, or cheating on our spouse.
Proverbs tells us that it is “naive” or “foolish” — depending on the translation — to see danger ahead and persist in our activity. When foolish actions are repeats, and become a life habit, then we have passed the line from doing something foolish to being a foolish person.
Wisdom tells us to alter our course. It only takes a little will power to leave the jelly-filled doughnut on the tray, but those other infractions — spousal abuse, stealing from the government and community, or risking our children’s college funds — may be illegal and most certainly are immoral.
LIKE MOST HUMAN SINS, we can lay the blame for our actions on “society,” i.e., “everyone else does it” or “it’s no one else’s business,” but the real fault lies within — it always goes back to human pride and willfulness. We do what we choose to do because … we want to do it. That’s true for the little things, like eating the extra doughnut, as well as the big things, like lying or cheating or showing anger.
So, why throw the doughnuts example in with the recognized sins? Certainly, God hasn’t weighed in on whether glazed or jelly-filled are counter to His eternal and universal laws. Just for illustrative purposes. It’s easier for us to identify the stubborn willfulness we display in the little things, those things that do not violate God’s laws. We can see them and recognize them.
Most people, though, find it difficult to see themselves willfully violating God’s laws, what we’re calling the big things. We would not even consider committing murder, theft, or adultery, yet Jesus gave us a far stricter standard when it comes to violating the Law. Mere speech can violate God’s holy standard. Not even that — but thoughts — those ideas or feelings that we keep inside, never to speak of or act upon — violate the perfect standard of the King.
PASTOR ANDY STANLEY URGES US to erect “guardrails” in our personal lives to keep us from straying into sinful situations. Our personal guardrails, he says, function much like the guardrails along the sides of our highways to keep us from driving off the roadway into a ditch.
“But where are the guardrails in our actual, everyday lives?” Stanley says. “We have to establish those personal guardrails ourselves so that we can back up and stay on the safe side of a potentially dangerous situation.”
So, what “guardrails” do we put into place in our personal lives to keep from inching over, slightly more and more, from respectability to violation of God’s laws?
Just as we grab the last cream-filled doughnut, ignoring the voice that tells us we don’t need it, so, too, we are prone to violate God’s laws because it pleases us. We may well hear His voice, but in our haste to satisfy our immediate desires, too often we ignore Him.
HOW CAN WE EVER MANAGE to please a holy and perfect God? (This question applies only to believers. Non-believers already fail to please Him because of their unbelief. (see Hebrews 11:6))
The Bible tells us there is a way to please our holy God. The Bible says there is only one way to remain obedient to God. That way is through Jesus. Jesus tells us in John 15:5 CSB: “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me” (emph. mine).
Jesus gives us the power and the strength to withstand temptation. Jesus provides the “guardrails” for our lives.
O Lord, our merciful and heavenly Father, we fall on our knees in praise and honor for your holy name. O Father God, your mercy and patience are more than we can fathom, your forgiveness is more than we deserve. Your love is overpowering. Pour your goodness into our hearts so that we may pour the overflow into the hearts of everyone we meet, and may men and women see that goodness and give you the glory. We pray in the mighty name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. AMEN
1. Do you ever struggle with obeying that quiet inner voice that leads you away from something you want to do, but you know you shouldn’t? If you disregard that voice, how do you drown it out? Through a hardened heart? Through substance abuse? Through entertainment and diversion? How do you feel the next day?
2. Can you trust Jesus to fulfill His promise that He will give you the strength to resist temptation, that He cares about you personally and knows your name, and that He has the power to step in? Do you believe Jesus, as a man, was able to avoid all sin?
3. What does God’s offer of eternal grace mean to you? Does it sound somewhat fanciful, like a wish for eternity conjured up by mankind or does it sound to you exactly like what God says it is: an offer to spend forever in His presence? Are you willing to turn your life over to Him now so you can lay claim to that offer? Are you willing to admit your sins and acknowledge your need for His forgiveness?
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