My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge. For the lips of an adultress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword.
Occasionally I ask my children to "spot the lie" when we're watching a TV commercial. A sleek red sports car will get you a tall brunette. Lie! The right microbrew will deliver happiness and companionship. Lie! Wearing the right brand of clothes will give you an edge over your competition. Lie! Television commercials often skew reality in their attempt to lure us into buying a product. They promise more than they can deliver. And all the news in commercials is good—no mention of the harm some products can inflict (those alluring microbrews, for example).
Temptation operates the same way. It comes wrapped in an attractive package. Satan is too smart to approach us and say, "Excuse me, could I have an hour of your time so I can ruin your life?" If he did, temptation would be easy to flee. But temptation is subtle. As the sage in Proverbs 5 points out, the appeal of an adulteress resembles honey and oil—the sweetest substances known in the ancient Near East. But in truth the adulteress's appeal is more like gall and a sword. Gall was the most bitter substance known in that region, while a sword represented grave danger.
According to Proverbs, gaining the wisdom and insight that leads to discretion is important. A person with discretion has a streetwise knowledge of the dark side. She understands the information that temptation's sales pitch conveniently omits. He is aware of the alleys temptation will take us down—if we let it.
Joe Aldrich, former president of Multnomah Bible College, warns, "When you're tempted to sin, especially in the area of sexuality, think through the logical consequences of sin which are tempting you. Don't stop your fantasy with the act. Think about the next morning, the next month, and the next year of your life. What will happen to your family, your children, your ministry?"
Sometimes we assume that we'll outgrow our vulnerability to temptation or that our Christian maturity or life experience will protect us. But leaders are nor exempt from temptation; if anything, we may face more intense temptations than others do. After all, the stakes are higher. Satan has more to gain from a leader's downfall.
Satan knows too well each of our particular areas of vulnerability, and he will exploit them however he can. Temptation lurks behind our desires and weaknesses, ready to make its inviting appeal. And when it does, it never tells us, as commentator Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story.
– Steve Mathewson
What temptation looks especially attractive to me? What might the logical consequences be if gave in to this temptation?
Lord, you know how I struggle with ______. You know how long for _______. So armor me that the enemy Can't penetrate these weaknesses. Grant me the discernment to recognize temptation for what it is. And when I am tempted, help me to find a way out—as you promise in your Word.
Something to Think About
"The devil's most devilish when respectable."
– Elizabeth Barrett Browning, nineteenth-century English poet
CopyrightTyndale House Publishers.
Used by permission.
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