“For a man's ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths. The iniquities of the wicked ensnare and he is held fast I the cords of his sin. He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.” Proverbs 5:21 - 23 ESV
Have you ever checked your data on Google Maps or Apple Maps? Your phone is tracking everything you do on a daily basis! I looked at my data from last year and it knew where I went the most often, when I went on vacation, even what a normal week looked like for me last year. On one hand, it was pretty cool to see all that data mapped out - patterns of my travels and time spent at locations. On the other hand, it was somewhat scary to think about how much my technology knows about me. If you spend much time on Facebook or other social media apps, you might begin to notice that they know a great deal about what you might want to purchase online. Data mining is big business in a digital world.
God knows so much more about you than Google, Facebook, or Amazon ever will. The Bible says in Luke 12:7 that "the very hairs on your head are all numbered." God has an intimate understanding of who you are (on the inside and outside) but he does not use that information for evil. Instead, God guides us because he can see all the paths at the same time. He does not run out of memory or storage; God is not bound by the human condition. Chapter 5 of Proverbs is about walking down the right path. It is clear that we need God's help to make the right choices as we navigate this life.
Discipline is a daily practice
I don't know about you, but I struggle with discipline in many areas of life. I know that I should not eat that donut, but I also know that donuts are really good. I heard someone describe discipline as putting off what you want right now to get something that you really want later. Ouch...
Proverbs says that we will die because of a lack of discipline. Chapter 5 is talking about some adult-themed topics when it comes to love and relationships, but discipline applies to all areas of our life. The choices we make now will affect the person we become later. Verse 13 says, "I did not listen to the voices of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors." Can you relate? Has there been a time that you did not listen to the advice from someone a little wiser than you? I think most of us can identify times when we walked down a path knowing that it was not the best choice. Solomon says that we might end up in ruin.
The solution to the problem is to develop better daily practices. Are you connecting with God each day? Are you spending time in prayer? Do you have anyone in your life that you can share honestly? Sometimes a quick conversation with a friend can keep you from ruin.
As I read this chapter, I kept thinking about the prodigal son from the story in Luke 15. The son takes his inheritance and leaves his home and family to walk down a different path. He spent all his money and came to a place where even the slop he was feeding to the pigs looked good. Proverbs describes it as a man "on the brink of utter ruin." I don't know about you, but desiring pig food sounds like the brink of utter ruin to me. If you have been in church for any time at all, you already know what happens next. The son returns to his father's house to beg for a place to stay. Instead of being met with harsh words and punishment, his father ran to him with open arms.
That story is such a great picture of the love that God has for us. We come to him broken and under a great weight and he meets us with open, loving arms outstretched to welcome us home. That offer is available for us today! If you are breathing and reading this devotional, it's not too late to return home.
Reflect and Respond
Do you need to come home today? Do you need to listen to the advice of others that you have been ignoring? Take a few minutes to pray and respond however God is leading you. Remember, He knows all your paths; nothing you have done is a surprise to God. Take a moment to confess your sin and ask God to direct your path.