Point of Reference
by Fred Price
In continuing the theme of last week’s article, let’s look at a few things we often convince ourselves are no big deal, yet which nevertheless influence our lives in ways we fail to consider. A major factor in so many of these incidents is our comfort level. As the shock or fear of these enticements fade due to repeated exposure or mental indulgence, we become comfortable doing what we have become comfortable thinking about or imagining. We must, however, be on our guard and work to “…not be overcome by evil, but over-come evil with good.” Romans 12:21
Much of the music we listen to, movies we watch and video games we play are full of violence, immoral innuendo if not graphic sex, filthy language etc. Will this cause everyone who indulges in this kind of “entertainment” to be a foul-mouthed murdering rapist? No. But it will encourage some to do so; and how many is too many, especially if someday the victim of such is your loved one or friend? How much filth is it ok to expose ourselves to anyway; when does it become too much? How will we know the difference as we become desensitized to what we hear, see and do, not fully recognizing the vulgarity anymore? Paul imploring us rather to think on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable in an attempt to no longer conform to the thinking pattern of the world. (Philippians 4:8 & Romans 12:2)
Speeding, a common practice often joked about by virtually everyone. We forget or ignore that it’s the law not to speed and that thousands of dollars are spent designing roads and calculating safe limits. The consequences? Fines, wrecks, physical injury and death to thousands every year and none of us believes it can happen to us.
Drinking Even social drinking can lead to problems for many as brain wave changes occur with just moderate drinking, effecting our ability to reason and respond. The risk of various forms of cancer being greatly increased by alcohol at any level, while full-blown alcoholism inevitably leads to cirrhosis of the liver and contributes to financial loss and family ruin. And it all starts with just one drink. The refrain, ‘I only had a few drinks’ often made at crash scenes, by rape victims, and those arrested for being a public nuisance. (Some people’s chemical make-up making them more susceptible to alcohol’s effects, your chemical response and dependency unknown and unpredictable, often until it’s too late.)
Smoking, snuff, and chewing tobacco are popular pastimes that often lead to lung disease, mouth cancer, and heart failure – lingering, painful diseases that destroy our ability to function long before killing us outright. They almost always start out as a challenge to try a little that entangles itself into the very fabric of our lives, becoming something we think we can’t live without.
Little white lies and gossip can become a way of life as well, a means of expression and “entertainment”. As we stretch and expand upon the truth we tell tales that are often based in reality but should not be shared; destroying friendships, hurting family members and damaging our potential for witnessing.
Drugs Even the prescribed ones can inadvertently cause “brain fog” leading to personality and emotional alterations as well as physical problems. So-called recreational drugs do that and more, often inducing obsessions, illness and death; which no one ever plans on happening. The intent being to just have a little fun.
Pornography capitalizes on the perversion of the natural, a common theme and practice of Satan. It develops obsessions, redirecting natural passions to unnatural expression and inappropriate behavior. This obsession can be destructive of families, damaging to professions and may end in criminal activity, which no one plans for when they first begin to look at inappropriate sexual material.
Necking and petting is the wholesome and natural progression to sex; when you are married and committed to one another for life and capable of handling all the consequences of sex on a spiritual, emotional, physical and financial level. If engaged in – you will respond – you will want more; leading naturally to a blessed event – if you’re married, a horror – if you’re not. Pregnancy and children will dramatically change your life; especially for girls unceremoniously dropped and left with all the responsibility of an illicit affair. STD’s and AIDS, while not noted as much in the news today, are still at epidemic proportions, unwanted children born out of wedlock abound; this in an age where sex education and information on birth control is more available than ever before. The problem being our lack of wisdom; our inability to wisely use what we know, not taking into consideration human frailty and inclinations. We need a Godly resolve to withstand a culture that glorifies and promotes an ungodly attitude about sex. Simply put, the more you engage in a little sex – the more you will want – SO DON’T START WHAT YOU CAN’T – OR SHOULDN’T – FINISH!
Cheating at school, work or even at play is tempting because we think we can get something for nothing, we can get out of doing something we don’t like or avoid things we don’t agree with. The real consequence being that we don’t learn, we can’t do; becoming less than who we could be, we really only cheat ourselves.
Dating unbelievers is a lot like flirting or falling in love with the world. We intend to be careful, to change them rather than being changed; yet we somehow fail to hold to that resolve as we fall in love with them in spite of the obvious contradictions and danger. (see 1 John 2:15-17) Paul admonishes us to, “…not be yoked together (un-equally yoked – KJ) with unbelievers.” This creates an image of two draft animals unmatched in size or strength that can’t or won’t pull a load at the same speed or direction, wrecking the goods being transported; it just doesn’t work. Being unequally yoked causes heartache, crises of conscience, emotional distress and family disruption. For, “…what fellowship can light have with darkness… What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” 2 Corinthians 6:14,15 Change can sometimes occur in these relationships and we are often tempted to try and do so, but a marriage grounded on the hope of change is more often headed for despair, heartache and divorce or compromise on the part of the saved partner.
Stealing, little items, just for kicks or on a dare. Or maybe you really need something (or just plain want it) but can’t afford it. Besides – they’ll never miss it! That kind of thinking and success in “little” offenses often leads to a boldness that desires and takes what it wants; an attitude that believes it’s owed what it doesn’t have. You’re just as good as they are, they have more than they need; what’s the big deal? Getting caught – going to jail – paying a fine – having a record – disgracing your family – disappointing God.
Foul language Even a little is contagious but for some hard to define. As God’s chosen people we would all agree that we should refrain from “filthy language.” Colossians 3:8. Scripture partially defining that as, “… obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place,…” Ephesians 5:4 Beyond that it shouldn’t be necessary to list all the words you shouldn’t use. It should be enough that we are expected to be different from the way the world is and expresses itself; knowing that like so much else, as we begin to indulge in the practice of cursing, it becomes a part of who we are as well as how we express ourselves. Is it a true expression of the God who is in you; a proper and effective way to communicate to others? “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up…” Ephesians 4:29 For, “…men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” Matthew 12:36
Sow the wind – reap the whirlwind. A frightening declaration, as well it should be. But if we stay grounded in God’s word and committed to his will, we will be guarded and protected from on high. As such, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest (of good) if we do not give up. “ Colossians 6:9
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Fred Price - married (48 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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