Today’s devotional on Proverbs is very straight forward, but before you discount whether it applies to your life, let’s dig deeper.
Proverbs 7 is a warning about adultery, which is an extension of the last part of Proverbs 6. The verses are very descriptive, and bring up images that contrast wisdom and destroying your life by following “the adulterous woman (or man).” We realize this is very important regarding relationships, but even if this does not seem to apply to your life currently, let’s consider other forms of adultery or even how this may impact you indirectly.
The initial verses that stand out are:
“Say to wisdom, “You are my sister, ”and to insight, “You are my relative.” They will keep you from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words.” [Proverbs 7:4-5]
“At the window of my house I looked down through the lattice. I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who had no sense.” [Proverbs 7:6-7]
“Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent.” [Proverbs 7:10]
These three verses show how to avoid getting into relationship problems by seeking wisdom and insight. They also show how important it is to help others avoid these pitfalls. The narrator views a simple young person, and can see the train wreck that will follow if they let adultery get the best of them. So, even if you do not feel like this is an issue for you, we have a responsibility to help those around us avoid this devastating mistake. Regardless of where you are in life the main premise is to guard your thoughts and actions (through wisdom) to prevent yourself from even thinking about going down this path.
The chapter ends on a very somber note, illustrating where adultery leads:
“Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.” [Proverbs 7:27]
The author uses imagery to show that adultery may seem enticing, but leads to the ultimate destruction of your life. We all know people who have fallen prey to this relationship mistake, but how seriously do we examine the consequences? Everyone around an adulterous relationship is impacted: the spouses, the kids, the parents, co-workers…no one is left unscathed. The reality is the final decision to act on those urges is the couple in adultery, but because of the stakes, it is also important to help those around us avoid falling into this trap.
From a practical standpoint what can you do?
For those who struggle with adultery or the thoughts of adultery:
If you have difficulty fantasizing about adultery or a relationship outside of your own, it is important to not entertain those thoughts, and instead determine why you are attracted to self destruction. Maybe your current relationship has lost its allure, but it is up to you to try and rekindle that interest in your spouse (try a date night, play a game, or take off early and bring home a gift). You also need to avoid visual distractions such as questionable images of the opposite sex, joggers running by with very little on, or even co-workers who flirt with you. This sounds silly, but simply stopping the urge at its inception can keep you from chasing those thoughts to your own demise.
It is also important to be held accountable. Ideally this should be someone you respect (of the same sex) who can help you reign in bad decisions.
For those who have friends or family who struggle with adultery:
If your spouse struggles with adultery, or even jealous thoughts, there is hope for you both. It is important that you hold them accountable while not becoming a private investigator. It is essential to live life from a position of peace and security, which in this sort of situation can only come from a relationship with God. So, to help them from a practical standpoint consider talking with others who they respect to be a positive influence on them. Also, show them you care by checking in on them when you think they may stray. Showing a positive interest in their lives and doing things for them, will show them you care, and they have a lot to lose by stepping outside of the relationship. Do more with them and invest in your relationship, even when it seems like the impact is minimal. This behavior over time will be your best approach to fixing things. If you feel the relationship is worth fighting for, realize you are in control of YOUR actions, so do your best, and if they are worth having in your life things will improve.
If you have friends or family who could fall prey to this, it is also important that you help provide a support system, so they can learn from you. From a practical standpoint if this is a co-worker talk to them about their relationships, and become a positive influence. This can mean recommending ideas for their anniversary, taking them to lunch (if they are the same sex), or inviting them to dinner with your family. In the case of family, you can be even more direct, but if your support is not welcomed take a step back and make sure you do not damage your relationship.
This is a sensitive, but important topic that impacts thousands of families each year, so see the following resources to give you tools to help strengthen your relationships:
Gateway Church’s Robert Morris discusses his own weakness, and how he overcame adultery: http://www.theblessedlife.com/
Fred Stoeker’s honest approach to dealing with these sensitive issues: http://www.fredstoeker.com/book/everymansbattle.shtml
It is our prayer at WeatheredStorms.com that you will find God’s blessing upon your relationships, with a renewed sense of love for your spouse, and a hope that was never there before.