"Who is wise? He will realize these things.
Who is descerning? He will understand them.
The ways of the LORD are right;
the righteous walk in them,
but the rebellious stumble in them."
Carter has a particular pair of toddler-sized flip flops which have ceremoniously been nicknamed his "boo-boo shoes." Whenever he wears them, he is due to experience at least a couple of fairly major wipeouts. In fact, Carter wore them this last Saturday to Lake Mission Viejo. Before lunchtime, he had a fat lip, a wiggly tooth and two skinned knees.
Carter knows the danger of his shoes, and when his eyes are rimmed with tears after a fall, he contemptuously glares at his boo-boo shoes, knowing full well where to place the blame for his lack of coordination. Despite this, he gravitates toward them every morning, pleading with mama to let him wear his "flip flops." Deep down, he feels like they are big boy shoes, and his vanity and strong will suppress the red flags that are warning him of impending danger. More often than not, I veto his desires, as I know the shoes are not practical and will cause him to fall.
To take a literal illustration and figuratively twist it, I was pondering Carter's shoe dilemma with my own struggle to "put off" things in my life that inevitably cause me to stumble in my Christian walk. In Philippians 4:8, God tells us to think about what is pure, true, right, lovely, noble and admirable. As we all know, it is a battle to dwell on rightoeus thoughts when we are living in and surrounded by a fallen world. However, we can make daily choices that can hinder or support us in our pursuit of holiness.
When I know I should be having quiet time with God, am I pushing everything aside and grabbing my Bible, or am I settling onto the couch for one quick click around the channels or a much desired catnap? When a magazine causes me to struggle with vanity or covetousness, do I cancel my subscription or do I gloss over my sins and continue to pick up the pages that lead me astray? If a certain friend continually gripes, gossips and brings out the worst in my sinful nature, do I repent of my contribution and admonish the friend (perhaps even having to put the brakes on the friendship) or do I ignore the situation in an effort to be "at ease" with others? In other words, do I value people pleasing more than I value obedience and righteousness?
God often gives us red flags that should send us running in the opposite direction of the danger, but, sometimes, much like Carter with his big boy shoes, we are drawn toward the danger due to the lure that sin can take on our hearts. It often seems attractive and benign, but it ensnares us and causes us to fall. Let us listen to the loving discipline and warnings of our Heavenly Father. Recognize what in your life can cause you to stumble and experience spiritual injuries. Turn from what causes you to sin and replace the danger with righteous disciplines, friends and conduct.
"For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,"