Read: Proverbs 6
“Can you build a fire in your lap and not burn your pants?” (Proverbs 6:27 MSG)
“If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned!” That’s what my father used to say to me, and I’m sure his father said to him, and his father said to him. The reason fathers the world over say that is because of the innate curiosity little boys seem to have for fire. I’m sure even before matches were invented, back when man lived in caves, wore animal skins and first discovered fire, some cave dad was telling his son, “Trog, you poke fire with stick, you get bad burn!”
Okay, maybe it didn’t happen quite that way, but around 3,000 years ago Solomon mused in Proverbs 6:27, “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?” Of course, Solomon’s point is that what is true of physical fire is also true in the spiritual realm—that human beings are often drawn to the very things that can burn them, sometimes beyond remedy. This chapter in Proverbs mentions the three biggies of what we might call unholy fire:
The Gold: Specifically, Proverbs 6:1-5 warns us about one of the riskiest, and therefore worst kinds of financial transactions of all: entering into a business partnership without prayerful and careful planning. Solomon doesn’t care whether the business opportunity has great potential or not, he just says agreeing to it apart from God’s wisdom is the height of foolishness. This is particularly true if the business deal is a get rich quick scheme, which seems to be the implication here.
If you’ve entered into a deal without giving due spiritual diligence to it, chances are, you’re going to get yourself burned! The wisest thing you could do would be to quickly and graciously extract yourself from your foolish partnership and chalk it up to a lesson learned the hard way.
“If you’ve gone into hock with your neighbor or locked yourself
into a deal with a stranger…Don’t waste a minute,
get yourself out of that mess!”
The Good Life: Perhaps the most typical way we play with fire is by rejecting the common sense approach to work and wealth that simply rolls up it’s sleeves, sees the responsibilities before it, doesn’t over-think what needs to be done, just seizes the day and gets after it.
Solomon describes this approach to life in Proverbs 6:6-11 by illustrating the work ethic, of all things, the ubiquitous ant. More success stories are birthed from the ant’s I-work-hard-for-the-money life philosophy than any other. Far too many people in our day, lured by lust for quick fame and easy fortune, are waiting for their ship to come in. The problem is, they’ve never put their ship out to sea. God will reward you with the good life, but he expects you to get up in the morning, grab your lunch pail, put on your hard hat, and get to work!
“A day off here, a day off there, sit back take it easy—
Do you know what comes next? Just this:
You can look forward to a dirt-poor life!”
The Gals: I suppose in fairness to the ladies, I should say “The Gals or the Guys”, since sexual indiscretion is an equal opportunity enticer. Solomon knew from first hand experience what we have observed in the lives of countless high-profile people in our lifetime who have crashed once promising careers, burned sterling reputations and caused untold pain in innocent bystanders by allowing their sexual drives to do just that: Drive their behavior.
God never intended our sexual needs to be in the driver’s seat of our lives. Our brain was meant to occupy that position, and our moral core was meant to be our navigator. As strong as our sexual drive is, and as susceptible as it is to temptation, just mark this down: If you give in to your sexual desires apart from God’s plan for sexual satisfaction within marriage, you are toast! That is what Proverbs 6:26 says,
“The adulteress will reduce you to a loaf of bread,
Sexual indiscretion will prey upon your very life.”
Well, there you have it. You keep poking your stick in those three flames of unholy fire and eventually you are going to get burned. There is nothing really profound about Solomon’s teaching here; he’s just telling it like it is. And like that little ant in verses 6-8 which doesn’t need anyone to help it discover the deeper, hidden meaning of life, neither do you. The ant just does the right thing.
I hope you will, too!
“It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.” ~Edmund Burke
Winning At Life:
Think carefully about this and answer honestly: Are you playing with fire with the gold (the unspiritual pursuit of wealth), the good life (an irresponsible approach to success) or the girls (an uncontrolled sexual appetite)? Being truthful and accountable in these three areas may mean the difference between being blessed and getting burned!