Playing with Fire

Playing with Fire

Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Proverbs 6:27

Several years ago, I was at my mother-in-law’s home, attempting to help with supper, when I picked up a paring knife. She warned me that I needed to be careful as the knife was very sharp. I was a little annoyed. I think I know how to use a knife. I am a doctor and thus, a pretty smart guy.

Well, Mr. Smart Guy walked away with no fewer than six Band-Aids that day. As it turns out, there are some things that I cannot handle without hurting myself.

This is the message of today’s passage. Though it is specifically referring to an adulterous relationship, the principle is applicable to any fire that we think we can handle without getting burned.

We think we can watch whatever movie we want without the sexuality of it filling us with lustful thoughts. We think we can indulge in a little anger – because we are justified – without that anger overthrowing our minds. We think we can enjoy just one drink or just one pill without returning to addiction. The fact that others seem to get away with no consequences only encourages us. I can get away with it. I won’t get burned this time. I’ll eat just one.

Today’s passage reminds us however, that it is the nature of fire to burn whatever it touches. We may think we are strong enough to remain unscathed, but we are not. When we indulge in destructive desires, we suffer. Sometimes, the only result is that we are encouraged to do a thing again, because we got away with it. Sometimes the only consequence is that we turn a little more from God towards ourselves, leading us almost imperceptibly into addiction.

If we want to avoid being burned and if we want to be who God made us to be, then we must learn to interrogate everything. Am I playing with fire? Does this turn me towards God or myself? In doing so, we will learn to turn from the misery of self-injury to embrace the joy and life of God’s healing.

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