“You just don’t understand what it’s like to be me!” my tween yelled as he ran upstairs to his room. I sighed as I heard the door slam. We had clashed continually as of late over his choice of friends and the activities he wanted to do while with said friends. He wanted to push past the boundaries I had set and follow what his peers were doing. While the rules I had given him were designed to protect him, he viewed these guidelines as unfair and restrictive.
His outburst reminded me of my own recent conversations with God. I didn’t agree with the way He had handled the circumstances I had been walking through. It felt, at times, like He didn’t care or hadn’t answered prayers in the way that I would have liked. I didn’t understand why He had allowed what He had or why He hadn’t intervened in the way that I thought He should.
Perhaps you can relate. When walking through hardships and difficulties, we might face the temptation to stray from God’s path. We might look at other people who don’t care about making the right choices and envy their carefree attitude. Like my child, we might not see the benefit of doing what is right when it looks like others are having more fun. We might ask, “Why try so hard to follow God and keep our life from sin? Does it even matter?” We might view God’s instructions to us as oppressive and restrictive rather than freeing.
However, Proverbs 1:33 reminds us of the benefits of following God, saying: “But whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” What can we learn from this passage?
1. Sin isn’t as fun as it looks.
It might seem obvious to state, but the truth is that sin is often presented to us in a deceptive package. Some choices are so destructive and harmful that we would never choose them. But other choices look attractive to us. Sin can be alluring. As Louie Giglio points out in Don’t Give the Enemy a Seat at the Table, if we’re feeling lonely or overlooked, an adulterous affair, unhealthy friendship, or destructive pattern of behavior can offer us comfort.
Satan is wily in the way he deceives us. As Giglio emphasizes, he dangles a temptation in front of us like a sparkly bait on a fish hook. He makes a sinful choice or walking away from God look attractive and innocent. It might promise us relief in the short-term, but in the long-term, actions that don’t line up with God’s Word or go against what God has told us will only end in consequences.
2. When we follow God’s precepts, we live in a place of security.
On the other hand, as the passage stresses, when we listen to God, we will live “in safety and ease, without fear of harm.” When we read this, we may think that the passage is telling us that we won’t experience problems when we follow God. However, that is not what this verse is telling us. In fact, Jesus told His disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Obviously, Jesus never promised us a life free of trouble or pain.
However, what the verse says is that we will have a refuge and a place of security in Jesus when we follow Him. That though devastating events may happen, and we will walk through hardships that might include health challenges, the deaths of loved ones, financial setbacks, and conflicts in relationships, we have a place of security and refuge we can turn to — a solid rock that keeps us grounded — even when life is tougher than we could have ever imagined.
We Should Always Listen to God
In a sermon series a few months ago, my pastor referenced Matthew 7:27 and talked about the storms of life happening to both the good and the bad — but how the righteous would always persist. Like he stressed, when we trust and rely on God, we can say even after great hardship, “This may have happened, but I am still here.”
Listening to God isn’t always easy. It can be inconvenient. It can cost us friends. Our belief in God can lead to mockery from others. Christianity is costly and it requires us to live differently and deny ourselves the sinful desires that others openly indulge in around us.
Like Asaph in Psalm 73, we might look at the casual attitudes of those who live in sin and think that the wicked have no worries or problems. It might look like they experience no consequences because of their sin, but God’s Word assures us that consequences will come at some point.
The Bible tells us that sin is serious (Romans 6:23). For those who do not put their faith in Jesus, their sinful choices will result in eternal separation from God. And for believers, we do not lose our salvation when we sin, but sin brings harm to us. Our sin causes separation in our relationship with God. If we do not confess our sin and persist in harmful choices, we will feel a spiritual distance and unrest in our souls. We will walk around with unresolved shame and guilt that God never intended for us to carry.
So what if we are a Christian and have walked into poor choices? The good news of the Gospel is that we can repent and turn. We don’t have to hide or feel ashamed. We can turn to God, confess, and ask for His help to get on track. And if we’ve never accepted Jesus, we can ask Him into our lives and make Him our Savior so that we, too, can be washed of sin and have a place of rest and refuge.
And for others of us that are weary — we’re feeling like our good choices and decision to listen to God haven’t paid off, we can be encouraged and keep pressing on. Though we might have hardship and turmoil, we have the peace and blessing of God. We have an unshakeable tower that we can cling to that will never crumble or give way no matter what comes against it.
Podcast will be uploaded shortly.