“Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.” Proverbs 4:14-15
A particular chain of stores in our area that I occasionally visit has a dollar section that gets me every time. Do I need anything from there? Absolutely not, but that doesn’t stop me! It’s an exercise in self-control just to make it past those shelves without adding fifteen dollars of unneeded home décor to my basket. My internal monologue usually sounds something like this: Oh, but what about that felt tassel garland or pack of floral note cards? No, I have note cards at home. Maybe that chalkboard easel or set of rose gold paper clips? I have papers that need clipping! And surely I have some use for this miniature magnolia wreath, right? Inevitably, I find some way to justify my purchase (after all, it’s only a dollar), and I leave having spent more than I’d intended to—especially since the things that catch my attention in the “dollar” section usually end up being the three- or five-dollar items, which definitely weren’t on my shopping list.
The love-hate relationship that I have with the dollar section, though, is not the store’s fault. In fact, it was a genius move on the part of their marketing folks; they sure know their demographic’s weaknesses! The problem is that I know my weaknesses too, but continue to put myself in a position that tests them. Though I don’t frequent this store, I am completely aware when I do go there that I need to be on the defensive and have a laser-like focus. If I walk too slowly past the dollar section or glance at it for even a moment, I know myself—I’ll get distracted from my purpose in coming to the store in the first place. Cute yet useless knick-knacks are my weakness.
There’s a simple solution to my problem…don’t go to this store! Or if I do find myself needing to go there, or accompanying someone who does, just don’t look! I simply have to put my blinders on and keep walking.
When I was a teenager, a Sunday school teacher used a similar illustration: if I’m walking home one day, and I know that there is a shortcut down an alleyway—but I also know that a rough and violent crowd hangs out there—I have two options. I can take the shortcut and try my best to defend myself, or I can take the long way home and stay safe. Of course, it would be foolish to take the shortcut. It’s much easier to defend myself when I don’t have to. But if I put myself in a place where I know danger will be, it’s more likely that I’ll get hurt.
I’m not saying that this store is a dangerous place or “the path of the wicked.” However, I do know that the best way to avoid falling into temptation is to avoid it altogether. Solomon told his son in Proverbs to avoid the way of evil men—to not even pass by it.
Each of us faces trials and temptations every day over which we have no control, and we have to rely on the Lord for the strength to overcome them. Why then would we ever choose to purposefully place ourselves in harm’s way by passing by or looking at something that we know will tempt us and play on our weaknesses? Whatever those weaknesses are, we have a much better chance of overcoming temptation if we don’t put ourselves in its path in the first place. The best way to protect myself from falling prey to sin—and the dollar section—is simply to “avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.”
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Mrs. Lauren Morris is a graduate of North Valley Baptist Schools and Golden State Baptist College. She is an integral faculty member of her college alma mater and is responsible for training the next generation in the subjects of English, education, and music. Mrs. Morris is also heavily involved in the music ministry of North Valley Baptist Church and has been faithfully serving on staff for many years.