Barbs and Thorns…

Last week I was listening to one of my podcasts. On it, the speaker recommended a movie and this speaker has similar interests as I do. I went to the IMDB app to look up the movie, which is what I usually do with recommendations. I look at the rating, summary and the parent review. This movie did not pass my test-it was rated R for language and some sexual content. The storyline though, looked great. It was a romantic comedy with sci-fi mixed in, which I would love. The problem was, it clearly didn’t pass the standard for things that would be pleasing to God. Needless to say, I have to skip seeing it. What I want you to know though is, I kind of want to see it. It looks good but I know from a godly perspective it is “trouble”.    

Today in Numbers, God warns his people about people who could bring “trouble” in the land. God is touching on a common theme we can trace in the bible portraying outsiders influence on the Israelites to sin and worldliness in our lives. God told the Israelites in Numbers to get rid of all the inhabitants. This sounds mean, but keep in mind these people had no morals. One of their goddesses was Ashetoreth, the goddess of sex. Their worship involved orgies. There were many unwanted babies due to their sexual practices, and some of these babies would be tossed alive into the bonfires that were ignited for the god Molech. Pornographic pictures were all over the land.  God knew if they did not get rid of all of it, the Israelites would eventually adopt their lifestyles, worship and loves. Their trouble and misery would be a nightmare. That  “trouble” would be as painful and irritating as “barbs in your eyes” and “thorns in your side”. Barbs and thorns are no fun, to say the least!

So, why the warning? Wouldn’t they naturally get rid of these people and wouldn’t we naturally turn away from “loving” the world? No. They wouldn’t and we won’t. These things are very attractive and luring. To the Israelites, these things would look fun, enticing, and satisfying just like sin looks fun, enticing and satisfying. Do you remember if the Israelites listened to God’s warning? Did they rid them of the inhabitants?  They did not and they became idolaters, they did adopt the practices of the people, and it led down a long, painful path of destruction and sorrow in their lives. We see the lure of the world that led David down the same path. It led Judas, with the love and “promised” fulfillment of money down the same path. The seeming “joys” of physical relations outside of marriage has led to countless destroyed marriages, families, ministries and more. It has all, as God said, been like “barbs in eyes” and “thorns in sides” both then and now. 

God has told us the only way to avoid the heartache of sin is to rid our lives of the opportunities for that enticement and temptation. We are told to guard our hearts. In a very small way, I hope that is what I am doing when I check IMDB before watching a movie. Can you think of any ways you proactively guard your heart to keep yourself from sin on a daily basis? We intentionally put OpenDNS, a filter, on our router in our home to help keep us all out of certain websites. Maybe you put your phone in a different room before going to bed. Maybe you have friends over to your place instead of going to theirs where there might strong temptations. These proactive things are ways to “drive out” the world in yours and my life. It is by taking these actions that we too will be able, with God’s help, to avoid any “barbs in our eyes” and “thorns in our sides”. 

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