We have to be honest about how we got to where we are. We have to own the ways in which we chose to take certain steps, and those steps turned into a journey, and the journey brought us to our destination. Our direction determines our destination.* We often have a pretty good idea about how we want our destination to look, but we undermine the very goals we are trying to reach:
- She wants to marry a great Christian guy - but hangs out at night clubs and goes through man after man.
- He want a great sex life once he’s married - but beds every girl he can.
- She wants a great relationship with her husband - but prioritizes the kids.
- She want a great relationship with his kids – but never enters into their world.
- He want his kids to respect him - but openly flirts with other people or never treats the kids respectfully.
- He want to develop closeness to God - but spends all her time on the internet or watching football
- He want to grow old with his wife, kids and grandkids - but neglects his health and his relationship with everyone on that list
- She wants her children to make God a priority - but skips church all the time and never actually take up a cross and experience the resurrection life in Christ
- He wants to get a high-paying job - but never works hard or studies.
Then they end up at destinations they don’t want and get bewildered – “How did I get here?” In many ways, they pushed the dominoes. One by one. We have to be honest about how where we are got disconnected from where we want to be. We forget that God has put a principle in place in the world: we will harvest a destination that will match what we planted with our decisions. Our attention determines your decisions, and our decisions determine our destination.
Proverbs 7:6-27 gives us insight into this progression. This passage shows how our current reality is connected to our past decisions. It “connects the dots” by gives us some signs that will warn us when we are moving toward a place we don’t want to be. The writer presents Wisdom and Folly as two different women, one calling us in the direction life in the Kingdom of God, the other calling us to sin and destruction.
"One day I was at the window of my house, looking out through my lattice shutters, And there among the usual crowd of the gullible people I spotted a naive young man. He was going down the street near the corner where she lived—that mysterious and evil woman — taking the road that led directly to her house."
Warning Sign #1: Hanging out with a bad crowd. Warning Sign #2: Being gullible and naïve. Warning Sign #3: Heading down a bad road. This is a bad combination. He is easily deceived - he’s not that good as sensing whether things are heading the wrong way or not. He’s on a road that has an obvious conclusion but is unaware. And the crowd is not providing any good advice for him. If he was even aware and steady he could be with a bad crowd in a bad situation as a holy presence. If he were with a crowd of good friends they would be on a mission trip as they ministered to others in this compromised situation. But none of that is happening. He lacks moral and social common sense. It’s a bad start.
Bad friends will put you into compromising situations so that you will compromise. They will encourage and applaud your downfall. Good friends will walk you through and away from bad situations, and encourage and applaud your honor and integrity.
"At the end of the day, as night approached and darkness crept in, I saw her! A woman came out to meet him. She was dressed like a prostitute and devious with her affections. Here’s what I know about her: she is loud and obnoxious, a rebel against what is proper and decent."
Warning Sign #4: Noisy rebellion against all that is proper and decent. I know it’s cool to talk about being rebellious and beating the system and not listening to the man. But you have to rebel against the right things. If I rebel against my doctor’s orders, I’m foolish. If I rebel against the ad campaign that tells me I can go to Vegas and do what I want, I’m wise. I am grieved by all the award shows on TV that reward vulgar language, blatant sexuality and anti-religious sentiment as if somehow saying and doing those things makes the artists exceptional geniuses. “They’re are so cool!” No, they lack social and moral common sense. Time Magazine recently listed 100 movers and shakers. Miley Cyrus was lauded for boldly and smartly recreating herself after her Hannah Montana phase. If you think that shift is heroic, smart or cool, you’ve bought the lie. It’s a tragedy worthy or our tears and prayers.
When rebellion looks sexy and edgy, you’re probably rebelling against the wrong thing. Godly rebellion is a gritty and costly fight the true, good, and noble.
“She’s always on the move—anxious to get out of the house and down the street; at times in the open, at others lurking around every corner.”
Warning Sign #5: Restlessness instead of peace. She is never satisfied, never at peace, never at rest. Something’s not right. It’s not as if she is restless because she is responding to God’s call, or because she realizes she is wasting her life. No, it’s a restlessness to bring others into her sin. It’s the nature of sin to never be satisfied. C.S. Lewis described it in The Screwtape Letters as “an ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure.
”As I am watching them, she grabs him and kisses him, then shamelessly tells him: ‘It was my turn to offer a peace offering, and today I paid my vows and prepared a feast with my portion, so now I come to see you. I really want to be with you, and what luck! I have found you! You’ll be impressed. I have decorated my couch, laid colorful Egyptian linens over where we will be together, and perfumed the bed with exotic oils and herbs: myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon."
Warning Sign #6: When you justify something because other religious people do it. She is apparently Jewish, since she took her peace offering to the temple (she sacrificed something) and returned home with her portion. In other words, she’s an observant Jew. Sin often hides behind religious pretension. “My friends said it was okay, and they go to church.” The mind justifies what the heart desires. Guard your heart and mind.
Warning Sign #7: When someone has to sell you something that shouldn’t need selling. I’ll be honest: if my wife says, “You know, I was thinking…” she doesn’t have to tack on all kinds of extras. I don’t need to be tricked or enticed for sex. I’m not thinking, “I wonder if we have the Egyptian linens and cinnamon.” Satan can never give us something in the fullness of God’s design. Sin always deprives us of the something good in what we pursue. And so it has to make up for it by bringing in all kinds of other good things to prop up the experience when it fails to deliver as promised.
When something that ought to be good and fulfilling on its own merits has to be surrounded by really cool things for it to seem good and fulfilling, that’s a warning sign.
"Come in, and we will be intoxicated with love until sunrise; we will delight ourselves in our affections. You don’t need to worry; my husband is long gone by now, away from home on a distant journey. He took a bag of money with him, so I don’t expect him home until next month."
Warning Sign #8: The allure of penalty-free sin. It’s so easy to think, “Well, what I’m about to do won’t hurt anybody. We are both adults and we agreed. I can do this with no consequences.” But sin always has wages; it will pay you for the work you do in its service. Sin promises short-term pleasure at the expense of long term joy, but you will eventually harvest what you plant.
"It worked! She enticed him with seductive words, seduced him with her smooth talk. Right away he followed her home. He followed her like a bull being led to the slaughter, like a deer heading toward a trap, like a bird flying straight into a net. He had no clue his life was at stake; everything was about to change. This is why it is so important that you listen to me, my sons, and pay attention to all I am telling you. Do not let your mind wonder about her ways; do not lose yourself and drift down her path, for she’s claimed one life after another, victim after victim, too many to count. Her house is the gateway to the grave; every step toward her is a step toward death’s dark chamber."
Our decisions determine our destination. We have to be honest about how the choices we’ve made have influenced where we are. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – God is for you. He has revealed principles in the Bible that are for our benefit. God does not want you to end up in the dark chamber of spiritual death.
* I have pulled the main principle in this series from Andy Stanley's book Principles of the Path. I highly recommend that you read it!