This week, we've been talking to our kids about choosing wisely, doing right ... not so much because God will "getcha" if you don't, but because we want life to go well for them.
As we were talking, I was reminded of this story about avoiding sin:
The room was crowded and the night sweltering as we took our family to Chevy’s Mexican Restaurant to enjoy an evening out. Before long, a sizzling platter of chicken fajitas was placed before us with a mound of sour cream and guacamole heaped to one side. And there, perched high and proud on the top of the pico de gallo, was an enormous jalepeno pepper.
Becky’s eyes lit up as she saw it. Soon, her chubby hand reached across the table to grasp the pepper in her fist. "Pickle!” she exclaimed as a huge smile spread over her face.
I gasped. "No, no, Becky,” I admonished. "It’s not a pickle. Here, give it to me.” I reached over and tried to pry the vegetable from her grip.
Immediately, she shrieked her disapproval. "Pickle! Mine!”
"Listen to me.” I attempted to remain calm. "That is a jalepeno pepper. It’s very hot.
You’ll burn your mouth if you eat it.”
Her forehead furrowed in consternation. Becky loved pickles. And, to her young eyes, the pepper looked an awful lot like her favorite kind.
"It’s very hot,” I repeated.
In a fraction of a second she made up her mind. She knew better than I did. It was a pickle. So, with one swift movement, she shoved the pepper into her mouth and bit down.
Sure enough, a moment later, her eyes watered, her mouth burned, and she was crying for water. "Waa! Hot!” she hollered, her hand grabbing for the closest glass in sight.
Gulp, gulp, gulp, she guzzled down the water. But her mouth still burned. I shrugged my shoulders. It was too late for my advice now.
Am I ever as foolish as Becky? Sin is like a jalepeno pepper. Sometimes it looks good, like a sweet, juicy pickle, but it burns us when we bite into it. In Deuteronomy 5:29 (NIV), God laments, "Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” In His word, God warns me against eating the peppers. He wants my life to go well. And He knows that sin will always hurt me, no matter how harmless it may seem at the time.
But, sometimes, I think I know better than God. He says "No,” but I ignore Him. I think my circumstances are special, it's really not a big deal, or I really will be better off if I just get my way this one time. But sure enough, as soon as I sink my teeth into sin, I suffer. Then I must endure the painful consequences in my life that no amount of water can quench. Of course, God forgives, but my mouth is still left burning.
Now, when faced with temptation, I remind myself of Becky’s face, all wrinkled up as she grabbed for the water glass. And I remember that sin is not a sweet pickle, it's a hot jalepeno pepper. And that helps me to be wise, especially when temptations come my way!