As our church moves through the book of Proverbs in the series There’s An App For That, I continue to realize that this ancient collection of wisdom is not for people with a “crisis faith.”
What is “crisis faith?” It is the “faith” practiced by those who ignore their faith until some calamity strikes their lives or their family. Many people walk blindly through life until the trauma of separation, addiction, or anger enters in — and that’s when a lot of folks suddenly turn religious. In his goodness, God often intervenes to rescue people with that kind of Johnny-come-lately faith.
But Proverbs is not about that. Proverbs is instead about lining up with a set of counter-intuitive, almost other-worldly values and priorities. And when we line our lives up — by a conscious decision of the will and then lived out over the span of years and years — we find ourselves with less trauma and fewer crisis.
Or at least the crises we face won’t be self-inflicted ones.
So this month, the people of Good Shepherd are reading a chapter a day of this ancient book. Since January has 31 days and Proverbs has 31 chapters, you just read whatever chapter number corresponds to the day of the month and voila . . . it works!
Today, of course, we’re reading Proverbs 5. Talk about crisis prevention. The entire chapter warns the young man to whom it is addressed to avoid “the adulterous woman.” I love the way it describes the condition of those who succumb to sexual temptation:
At the end of your life you will groan,
when your flesh and body are spent.
You will say, ‘How I hated discipline!’
How my heart spurned correction!
I would not obey my teachers
or listen to my instructors.
I have come to the brink of utter ruin
in the midst of the whole assembly. Proverbs 5:11-14
The list of Christian leaders who can identify with those words is, sadly, far too long. Both among the well-known and the obscure.
Which is why Proverbs 5 reminds us the best preventative medicine for sexual temptation is to want what you already have:
Drink water from your own cistern,
running water from your own well . . .
May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
A loving doe, a graceful deer —
may her breasts satisfy you always,
and my you ever be captivated by her love. Proverbs 5:15, 18-19
In the realm of sexual temptation and Christian living, that’s the best crisis prevention of them all.
Join us in reading through this timeless collection as we open 2010.