Jump Start # 2656
Proverbs 1:15 “My son, do not walk in the way with them. Keep your feet from their path.”
Our verse today is the wisdom and advise of a dad to his son. In the context, the father is warning his son about tagging along with sinners. They will entice. They will invite. They are wicked, violent, and lawless. They prey on robbing others and hurting others. The thrill and stolen wealth is no reward for the evil that they do. Don’t walk with them. Keep your feet from their path.
These words take us to our series on “Articles from the West.” While vacationing in Montana and Wyoming, my wife and I hiked and hiked and hiked. I was slow going up hill. She was slow going down hill. We’d stop, especially, going up hill, and allow younger ones to pass us by.
At the beginning of each trail we walked were large signs warning about bears. We were walking in bear country. Each day my wife would ask if I had the “Bear spray” with us. I’d fuss because I didn’t think it was necessary. I had a “bear bell” and that should have been enough. But I brought it along. Our last day, we found a trail that was our favorite. It went through meadows, over a hill and there were bison grazing. Then through a woods and along some geysers and hot thermal basins. It went along a couple of lakes. We had the trail to ourselves. It was very pleasant. I got a book while on our trip. It’s about the deaths at Yellowstone. The book morbidly tells of people who fell into hot geysers, off cliffs and others attacked by bears. I was reading the bear section the other day. The very trail we last walked on, our favorite trail, a person was killed by a grizzly bear just a few years ago. The story told of the very places we had just walked. The couple that was attacked did not have any bear spray with them. And, now I realized how glad I was that I had the bear spray with us.
Warnings are often unpleasant and sometimes they seem to annoy and not be necessary. However, our pride thinks we know better. We don’t need to pay attention to the lower speed limit around a curve. We got this, we say. We don’t need to carry bear spray. Nothing will happen.
Israel was told observing God’s commands was for their good and for their survival (Deut 6:24). And, in this, there is a great lesson for us:
First, we often think we are above some of the laws and warnings of God. I don’t need those things, we say to ourselves. The weaker folks do, but I’m ok. This can even translate to I don’t need to read my Bible daily. I don’t need to attend every service. I’m ok. Reminds me of a foolish guy who didn’t want to take bear spray with him on a hike. Now, I’m glad I did. God knows us better than we know ourselves.
Second, we may not see the serious trouble that sin causes. We tend to minimize how bad things are. Carrying a small bell is a lot easier than a canister of bear spray. But if a bear is charging you, that bell won’t do much good. It might be a dinner call for others to come and join in. A little office flirting is innocent and nothing will come of it. So, thinks the man who gets tangled up in an affair, wrecks his marriage, ruins his reputation and destroys his trust that his children have. A little lying never hurt anyone, so says the person who is headed for a serious crash when those lies catch up with him and people no longer believe what he says. There is no such thing as a little sin. A little sin will kill your soul and cause one to be cast eternally away from God’s presence. A little sin is just as dangerous and damning as a big sin.
How many bites do you think Eve took of that forbidden fruit? How many times do you think Lot’s wife turned around and looked at burning Sodom? One time is just as wrong as fifty times. Sometimes we just do not take warnings very seriously.
Third, we arrogantly believe that we can fix any trouble that we get in. So, what if a bear shows up on the trail? Run. Wrong, you’ll be lunch for the bear. Scream. Wrong, you’ll be toast before you know it. And, those are the two main default modes that people go to on hikes in bear country. They run and they scream. And, tragically, their lives make it to books about people being killed by bears. One story told of park rangers coming upon a bear that had a person’s leg sticking out of it’s mouth. The tennis shoe was still on the foot. There are problems, wrongs, and sins that only God can fix. There are troubles so deep that we need the help of others. We need our shepherds to guide us spiritually. We may need counselors to work through the baggage brought into a marriage. We may need professionals to help us deal with addictions that have troubled us for years. It’s easy to get into trouble. It’s easy to make a mess of things. Sometimes we can’t fix the trouble that we have caused. We need grace. We need to forgive. We need God’s word.
Fourth, we need to be thankful for those who instruct us, guide us and warn us. We need to be thankful that God’s word is not another “Chicken Soup for the Soul” devotional. We need God to be honest, clear and straight with us. We need God to tell us to steer clear of certain situations and certain people. One has to wonder about how many problems have been avoided in his life because he followed God’s word. He listened. He avoided people that were trouble. He resisted the devil. He wore the armor of God. Life has been good because he paid attention. Just carrying bear spray will not keep bears away. One has to be alert. One has to look around. One has to keep their eyes open. One listens for sounds. But one doesn’t walk in fear. One enjoys the day and enjoys the beauty of the area. And, so it is with the word of God. The world is dark and we can be fearful and tremble. But we don’t. We walk with the Lord. We enjoy the day. We count our blessings. The world is dangerous, but we walk with assurance and confidence in the Lord.
Warnings…they serve a purpose.