We have a new neighbor who lives right across from them, an older woman who raises goats and lives a quiet, orderly life. She looked outside on what was probably the windiest day of the driest month of spring to see flames just across the lime rock drive from her own house. So she called 911.
That was by far a smarter move than the other neighbors had made that day, for quite soon the fire got away from them and started spreading. Imagine that! Then, to cap off the whole ridiculous escapade--evidently some ammunition was left in the old trailer and it suddenly started going off, at least one shotgun shell and half a dozen solid bullets. Before it was over three fire trucks, an ambulance, a forestry truck, and two deputies were crowding my narrow little road. Somehow, no one was hurt.
No, my neighbors were not too bright that morning, starting a fire on a windy day in the middle of a drought and failing to make sure that all they were burning was wood and insulation. What could we expect though? These were the offspring of a man who, on another windy day in the middle of a drought 15 years ago, gave his children some matches to play with so they would stay out of his hair. That time we were the ones almost burned out. We did lose a portion of fence when the firemen broke through it with a bulldozer while building a firebreak, but nothing else thanks to their hard work.
You know what? We often play with fire exactly the same way, with even worse consequences. The Proverb writer says, Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on, 4:14,15. We go where we have no business being, where temptation sits waiting to strike, and then wonder how we got into trouble.
We turn away from good advice and listen to the bad, avoid the righteous and hang around with the wicked, because we are certain we are strong and can handle the traps. The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death. Good sense wins favor, but the way of the treacherous is their ruin. In everything the prudent acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly, Prov 13:14-16. I have always thought it amusing how little God cares for political correctness and tact. He calls us fools when we act like one.
God even told the Israelites not to covet the idols their neighbors had. Why? The carved images of their gods you shall burn with fire. You shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them or take it for yourselves, lest you be ensnared by it, Deut 7:25. God has always pictured wealth as a snare to his people. Yet what do we always wish for? What do we think will fix all our problems? But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction, 1 Tim 6:9. Let’s not get on our high horses because we understand that a Christian shouldn’t play around with liquor, with drugs, with gambling, or with illicit sex. For one thing, we are just as vulnerable as anyone in those areas. For another, we are just as bad when we think money is the be-all and end-all. We are playing with dynamite that could explode in our faces just as easily.
Are you playing with fire in your life? Are you too sure of yourself, so confident in your ability to overcome that you place yourself in harm’s way and practically dare the Devil to come get you? Remember God’s opinion of such a person. I don’t want him to call me a fool on the day it matters the most.
Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death, Prov 6:27,28; 14:27.