Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods. (Psalm 16:4)
As we are reminded in Proverbs 17, "Sensible people keep their eyes glued on wisdom, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth. Foolish children bring grief to their father and bitterness to the one who gave them birth." (vs. 24-25) Run away from God and toward anything else that we embrace in place of God in our lives, and we will soon know the bitterness that comes from pursuing these 'false gods'. Kids do a wide variety of things that parents may label as 'sweet', 'cute', or 'precious', but God will always label our wayward desire to put anything else in his place in our lives as 'sin'. Reject God by not putting him in his right place as Lord of our lives and we will soon reap the 'reward' of that rebellious spirit - the consequences may not be all that kind to us. If you have been anything like me, you might just know there is a certain amount of deep sorrow and regret that accompanies rebellion. Try as we might, we cannot escape the sorrow that accompanies sinful pursuits. We can try to escape them, but the truth of the matter is that sin leaves a 'tell-tale sign' of its presence. It is like walking down a dusty path, not even noticing just how much dust is gathering about our ankles until we strip away the shoes and socks. All of a sudden, we realize the 'filth' of the journey!
The 'filth' was 'unseen' as long as we were walking that path, but as soon as we broke from that path, attempting to recover from the journey, we notice the unsightly 'filth' that has gathered. Sin is like that - we follow the path for as long as we want and then when we attempt to 'recover' from the journey down that path, we begin to notice just how much 'filth' has gathered inside of us. We begin to sense regret and perhaps even a bit of guilt. We might dwell on that regret and guilt over and over again, leading us to feel a great deal of shame over having taken sin's path. Filth upon filth - guilt and shame. As much as we want to wash away the dirt of the dusty trail, we desire to be free of the filth of our sins. Chase after other 'gods' and you will soon notice the 'gathering filth' of that chase. We choose the path we will take - we choose who will be at the center of our lives.
It could be we choose ourselves - wanting nothing more than to be the leader of our own lives. I daresay I have tried that pathway, and it didn't work out so well for me. We could choose to worship something else - like a career, material things, or even another person, but I will also tell you that pathway will have a 'dirt' all its own that will leave you feeling just as 'filthy'! We must not have any other 'god' in our lives - that is pretty clear in scripture. What do we do if we have allowed someone or something else to take God's place? We confess our sin, repent (turn away from it), and give him his rightful place. As we do, we will likely notice we need a good 'washing' in order to get rid of the filth we have allowed to gather. Repentance involves cleansing - so don't be afraid to be 'washed'. It is God's way of restoring the beauty he desires for each of us. Just sayin!