Proverbs 16:17

The highway of the upright turns aside from evil;
whoever guards his way preserves his life.

The upright, when it comes to temptation, heeds the warning of his conscience, “don’t go there.” He does not listen to the various rationalizations that would take him into temptation and danger – curiosity, to become stronger, to protect others, to see what others struggle with, and so on. “Just don’t go there,” he says to himself.

In our modern day, the image lends itself to someone driving a car. Billboards are along the highway for adult entertainment, casinos, alcohol. Add others – signs for gluttony, for pride, for greed, for gossip, etc. All you need to do is pull over at the next exit. So easy to do; you are away from home; you’ve got some extra time…

The upright turns aside from the exits and travels on. Why is he able to do so – because he has greater self-control, a greater capacity for self-denial? Perhaps it is because he has a greater destination to reach and can’t be distracted by shallow, empty substitutions for true joy and fulfillment. Perhaps he has tasted that the Lord truly is good. He has drunk from the water of life given by Jesus Christ, and his thirst is for righteousness; it is for God himself.

If you are to turn aside from evil and guard your way; if you are to do this successfully, it will not because you have developed enough willpower to resist temptation. It will be because you have tasted the Lord and found him good indeed; it will be because you love him and you are driven by the desire to know him more. Desire is not bad; what matters is the object of your desire. Seek after God; learn the joy of righteousness. Christ said he came to give abundant life (John 10:10). Take time, make the effort, to enjoy that life now.

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