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“You shall not put the Lord your God
to the test.”
Matthew 4:7; ESV
There was an old child’s joke that said, “There were two morons sitting on the edge of a cliff. One was a big moron and the other was little moron. Why did the big moron fall off and the little one didn’t? Answer: Because the little one was a little-more-on.”
This reminded me of various times in my own childhood being told by my parents, “Careful, not so close,” as I ventured a little too close to the edge of some potentially dangerous spot. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? In one fashion or another, we’ve all sometimes carelessly ventured too close to danger. Likewise, we’ve probably all lovingly said to our younger children, “Careful, not so close” when they’ve also found themselves at the edge of safety and potential danger.
I see a spiritual application in this. Just as a child left playing too close to the edge of a cliff or other dangerous spot is likely to fall and get seriously hurt, so too the child of God left living too close to the edge of the world is likely to also fall and get seriously hurt. I do not believe that worldliness is something to be taken lightly.
Yes, we all have to live in this world, and be a light unto the world, but we must not be careless in how we do that. Sometimes that safety barricade or guardrail of the highway of life is not there. Other times, though it may be there, if we get too close, it still may not hold us back from a fall. Many a Christian, including prominent leaders, have fallen and gotten seriously hurt in the process of carelessly venturing too close to the edge of God’s way and the world’s way. I’m sure that we all understand about the pull of temptations. Even Jesus was tempted. However, the Apostle Paul reminds us, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12; NIV). Are we being careful around potentially dangerous and tempting situations?
Sometimes all it takes is to be a little careless in that friendship with a member of the opposite sex. Then add a trial or moment of weakness in which the one friend graciously comes to comfort the other, and that friendship suddenly finds itself at a whole new and intimate level. Sometimes all it takes is that second glance at pornography, and the same curiosity that killed the cat, suddenly comes knocking at our door too. Then before we even know what happened, we’re hooked. Sometimes all it takes is getting a little too comfortable with the world, and that already fine line between God’s values and the world's values gets even finer still. They’re all slippery slopes. Then when life adds a little rain cloud, the ground beneath us on that slippery slope suddenly gets even more slippery, and down we go. Then before you know what happened, the church looks just like the world, and perhaps even worse.
God loves you and me dearly and He does desire the very best for us. I’m sure that we would all agree. But He has also given us a measure of freedom to choose our own way through this life. Along with that freedom to choose, there are also consequences. For example, just as the consequences of fornication (premarital sex) might be disease or an unwanted pregnancy, so too virtually all choices in life have some form of consequence attached to them. Yes, Jesus will always be there after the fall to pick up the broken pieces of our lives, and He may even remove the pain of the fall, but that child born out of wedlock remains.
I suppose it would be one thing if we only were to hurt ourselves by our actions, but inevitably others are hurt by our choices too. Marriages do get broken, diseases do kill people, guilt does plague lives, and unwanted pregnancies do lead to unwanted children. And in the end, the only one laughing is the devil himself.
Is there a fine line between walking the Christian walk and that of walking a worldly walk? Perhaps one would think that there shouldn’t be, but to look at the way many of us live, one also cannot help but to wonder sometimes. Have we chosen to live on the edge of the proverbial cliff? Hmm, I wonder.
“Careful, not so close.”