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Playing With Fire

Journal Entry // May 15, 2021

Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?

Proverbs 6:27 ESV

I was actually looking to have a more positive reflection this morning. I was hoping for some passage of scripture that would lift my eyes heavenward and show me the character of God. But God has once again brought a passage to help me think rightly about my heart and the consequences of sin.

These two chapters in Proverbs are continuing with an exhaustive picture of the forbidden woman. Except in this section the writer moves on from the woman not necessarily knowing what she was doing to actively enticing. Actively seducing the man that was too casual with his steps, letting himself turn aside to her street being forgetful of God’s commandments.

The question I am focusing on comes in the midst of a set of questions being asked to reiterate the point that God’s word is our light upon the path and that when we live and breathe through meditation and reflection upon the commandments of the Lord, that or steps will be sure and righteous.

But there is a continual drift in our heart, in my heart, to entertain temptation. I hear her calling to me. I see her allure and fix my gaze. There is always an initial innocence to the temptation. Always that first rush of pleasure that sparks in the heart. That spark ignites within and we feel compelled to seek more. To fan the flame of desire within our heart and enjoy that pleasure again and again. Needing more and more as time goes along. For the forbidden temptation does not settle for just an occasional one-off encounter. No, the forbidden temptation seeks not just your heart, but your mind and soul and strength. And all the while I think that I am controlling the fire. All along I think I can safely carry this small flame within my heart – hidden safely out of sight from prying judgmental eyes. I easily forget that fire consumes all that it touches. Fire does not respond to your lead. Fire seeks only to burn all that it comes into contact with.

So I’m left once again feeling helpless. I’m once again reflecting on how invasive sin has become in my heart. That I have allowed multiple forbidden temptations to spark in my heart again. Sure, these temptations and sins are small. Sure they are minimal in the eyes of most but I can feel that spark catching on the dry tinder within my heart. Anger, jealousy, coveting, and withdrawal. These are all threatening to catch and flame up. And I am tempted to let them. I am tempted to roll these thoughts over in my mind. To occupy myself with what if, what could have been, and what should be. To fan these sparks into flame and carry them close to my chest at all times.

But God’s word calls me to something better. Jesus calls me to himself. Jesus has made his home within me. He is willing and able to snuff out any hint of a spark that does catch. He calls me to a life of not just putting out the flames that pop up, but to a life of removing the dry kindle from within my heart. Removing the source of fuel for any potential fire.

How does this work? Moment-by-moment communion with Christ. Setting my eyes ahead to look upon Christ. When I hear or see that forbidden temptation… flee to Christ. Run to him. Cling to him. Let him wrap his arms around me and shelter me from the evil that pursues me. In humility come to Christ. For it is only in humility that I understand that I cannot walk down the street of the forbidden woman. When I cast my eyes away from Christ and his path… When I look longingly at life in the past… When I desire the distractions off the good path… This is when I lose myself and stray into the forbidden area.

I need to bind God’s word in my heart. Let it sink down deep. Let it permeate every area of my life. Let Jesus shine his light into the darkened areas of my heart and bring healing. There will be some pain and suffering to be sure, but there is sweetness that follows the bitter. A clean heart. A pure heart. A heart fully engaged with Christ. A heart living in relationship with my Savior.

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