Thursday, July 12, 2018

Door Number One? Two? Three?

The arrogant eyes (pride-filled attitude of looking down on others in judgment), the lying tongue (that destroys others and builds self up), the hands that murder the innocent (often without really "killing" them), and the heart that hatches evil plots (just because it can!). The feet that race down a wicked track - now that is indeed a description of some of our responses to temptation in life - we actually run toward them rather than away!

Here are six things God hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion: eyes that are arrogant, a tongue that lies, hands that murder the innocent, a heart that hatches evil plots, feet that race down a wicked track, a mouth that lies under oath, a troublemaker in the family. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

Feet carry us on our journey - they are what propel us forward or stop us in our tracks. In this case - they are racing forward - not at a pace that suggests any hesitation in the way they are going, but with determined purpose. Their direction is down the track - they are making progress away from the point where they started. Their destination or course they are traveling is that of less than a desirable end - it is a wicked track. Now, lest we quickly dismiss this 'path' as one upon which we'd never place our feet, let me ask each of us to recall the last time we lost our temper, or became so frustrated with something that we took something into our own hands. Did you gingerly just meander down that path, or did you run like a fool on fire? I daresay, we all 'run' in the wrong direction at times, my friends.

This wicked path is more than a subtle mischievous path. It is characterized by both bad principles and bad practice - having principles doesn't always keep us from practice that is wrong - even the best intentions can go awry on occasion given the right impetus. When we set ourselves toward embracing principles (values) that are bad, the practices (actions) that stem from that foundation will also be bad. God is emphasizing that we have something within us that propels us forward down a path that we should not even be on at all - something within that motivates us to move in a particular direction with quite a bit of haste. He describes spiteful, malevolent, vicious actions caused by hearts that are not guarding against wrong-doing.

That is how it is when we allow compromise to enter into our lives - we find ourselves maybe only trying something once, but if the results are even a little bit satisfying, we try it again. This is fine if the choices we are making are righteous in nature, but it is quite a different thing if they are morally wrong choices. I can pick up a fishing pole and throw in a line from time to time, relaxing and enjoying an occasional catch. If this becomes a habit that results in me calling in to miss work, avoiding family duties or responsibilities, etc., then it isn't a righteous course any longer. Each time we compromise it makes it easier for our entire being to lower our resistance to the forces that entice us to go a little further. In turn, our response to the temptation to compromise comes into our thoughts a littler easier, making it appear that we are heading down the track without really exerting much effort at all.

So, how do we guard against having feet that take us down the "wicked track"? It is a moment-by-moment assessment of our responses. We can change course quite easily - but only if we are attentive to where we are heading! Remember that each of these seven characteristics lends to the 'success' of the other. Asking God to show us where we have problems with our pride is the beginning of staying on track. Counting on God to help us use our tongue in ways that continually honors him and build each other up keeps us from being a stumbling block for others. Allowing God to reveal how our words, actions, and attitudes destroy the character of others, hold back the growth of another, etc., will open our eyes to pathway choices that are reflective of bad principles and bad practices.

We are given the Holy Spirit as the means by which we can guard against running wildly down the pathway of bad principles and bad practices. He infuses us with the power to make the right choices, building upon the right principles within. We get those principles "in" by frequent exposure to the Word of God and times of deep, personal worship in God's presence. Sometimes we think it is hard to guard against compromise - and we would be right if we are assuming that task alone. We are given the Holy Spirit to assist us in avoiding those wrong principles from taking root. He acts as a guard over our actions by first assisting us to guard our attitudes. So, get time alone with him this week and see where he will lead you! Just sayin!