Today’s guest blogger is Heather Rice. She is an oncology nurse, with degrees also in linguistics and biblical counseling. Besides counseling at her church, she enjoys hiking, languages, linguistics, Bible study, and her church.
So, let’s say you just messed up. Perhaps an unkind word slipped out at the driver in front of you. Maybe you hit the snooze button too many times this morning and forfeited your daily quiet time with God.
Now, what possessed you to do such a thing? Naturally, lots of options come to mind: if that idiot on the road had an ounce more sense, if folks on Facebook didn’t post such interesting things you wouldn’t have stayed up so late….. Sure now, there may be contributors to our sin, but that stab of guilt prods us toward a deeper honesty: before God, I must own up to my own actions.
Having taking responsibility for your actions, and called it that politically incorrect word (“sin”), have you ever asked yourself, “How did this happen? I feel likes it’s not me when I do it.” Knowing not just that we sin, but how it happens helps us fight against it. Many years ago, a concerned father crafted a vivid little story to help his son fight temptation. We will call it the “The Tale of Two Women,” and it is found in Proverbs 9.
First on scene is Lady Wisdom, and we watch as she prepares for a feast. She is quite the woman! Not content to rent or buy, she builds her own house! She rejects cheap brick and wood and hews out the stone herself. The White House would blush to stand beside this house because this noblewoman spares no expense in quality, skill, or effort, and her resources are limitless in abundance and quality.
Next, we watch Lady Wisdom prepare the meal. Whole Food meat market is below
her; she selects the animal live, kills and slices the fillets herself. She sorts out wines with the delicacy of a sommelier. I’m quite sure she uses butter and bacon in copious quantities without a whiff of reserve. Like the ultimate cordon bleu chef, she fuses the whole into dishes that dazzle the eyes and inspire the appetite.
Next, with finesse and attention to the
finest etiquette, this matron sets the table with a balance of lavish quality, thrilling tradition and elegant simplicity. At last, she is ready.
As you trudge along your life, you are startled by a voice. Lady Wisdom calls, “Are you a simple person? Come to my feast!” So, you go to investigate. “Wait, dear soul,” she says to you. “Forsake your folly; leave it at the door. Then enter, and live!” In other words, to eat of the feast of wisdom, you must first realize that you are simple and don’t know it all, acknowledge yourself a fool and humble your heart to receive Wisdom’s teaching.
The scene shifts and suddenly we notice another woman: Madame Folly. She knows nothing, but this doesn’t stop her because she is “open-minded.” Her mind is like an open window without a screen: it lets in every mosquito and fly. She flaunts lots of bling and has the kind of voice that pursues you even around corners of buildings.
As you trudge along the way, you see her there, lounging lazily by her front door. She seems so cool and unconcerned. While you are busy just trying to do the right thing, she calls: “Are you a simple person? Come to my feast! Look, you don’t need to change your ways. You can keep doing what you like. Just come as you are!”
She offers you bread and water, crooning, “Stolen water is sweet!” And let’s be honest: There is something enticing about feeling like you are getting away with something. There is something thrilling to think that you just outwitted fate. It’s just bread and water, after all, what possible consequences could come of that?
So, you turn away from the straight way, “Just for a little break,” you tell yourself. This lady can make life fun! You crunch away on bread and guzzle the water. Sure, it’s not that fine feast you noticed peering through Lady Wisdom’s window, but at the moment getting your own way feels great. And it’s such a relief to just give into what you’d been wanting. Your new friends laugh and slap you on the back. You smile as they tell you they think you’re the best addition to their little club ever.
But then suddenly a voice intrudes: “But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.” You blink: at your right elbow is a skeleton! At your left, a corpse leans against your shoulder. Across the table, in the deep darkness, hollow eyes reflect your own skull’s holes.
Lest we deceive ourselves, two thousand years ago, James depicted the whole scene frame by frame to make it clear (James 1:13-15). He uses a beautiful image, childbirth, to picture sin, and by this contrast of the birth of a child and the birth of iniquity, James captures at a blow the naturalness of sin and how it twists and perverts.
“Each one is…enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”
First, sinful lusts tempt with a lure like a woman crooning by a doorway. Circumstances appeal to inner personal wants that already lie within us waiting to flare up into raging desire. Giving into that desire is like swallowing a fishing lure or turning aside from a straight road. When we give in to what we know God has commanded against, we sin. If left unrepented, that sin makes a place in our life like a conceived child in the womb. Give that sinful action time to grow, like a child developing within the uterus (thinking you’re getting away with it), and soon you will find yourself face to face with the skeletons of death and destruction of your morals, of relationships, perhaps even of your life (James 1:13-15).
Now, thanks be to God He has spared all believers from eternal death and given them a new heart. A loving Father, He also provides the Scripture and the Holy Spirit so that they can stand strong against the temptations of Madame Folly and choose the feast of Lady Wisdom.
Like Lady Wisdom’s banquet table, the Bible serves truth and wisdom with superb skill and over-abundance. Gorging on God’s Word and obeying it keeps us from falling for Madame Folly’s poisoned dainties. Each morning, there is a sumptuous feast laid out for you in your own Bible: leave your tempting inclinations at the door, step in and savor every heartful.