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Paths and Principles

May 24th, 2009

Focus Passage: Proverbs 14: 12 (NLT)

12 There is a path before each person that seems right,
      but it ends in death. 


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

Paths are a bit of a theme for me recently; in fact, it’s pretty strange how often this topic is raising its head in my life.  First of all, in my preparation to speak on Sunday, I felt inspired to dwell upon Proverbs 3:5-6 . . . which ends with the promise that when we trust in God, He will direct our “paths.”  Next, I happened to be reading a book by Andy Stanley called “The Principle of the Path.”  (I highly recommend it.) As I was reading this past weekend, the chapter in particular I was in happened to be based completely upon Proverbs 3:5-6– the exact verses of my topic for Sunday!

And now this!  Okay, I get it!  I need to think about paths.  Come, think with me.

I think that the most striking feature of this study of paths is the realization that the existence of paths is not optional; the only option is which one we will choose.  In other words, the question isn’t whether or not we are on a path, but rather which one we are on.  As Andy Stanley puts it, I’m not trying to get on a path in my finances . . . I’m on one already.  Same is true for our relationships, attitudes, fitness, and every other area of life.

This passage is a resounding reinforcement of this truth: “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.”  Sounds kind of morbid, I know.  But don’t get caught up in the feeling of this passage; instead get caught up in the truth of it.  There is a path before each person . . . everyone from grannies to grocery store employees to prison inmates to pastors to destitute children living in trash heaps to doctors making six figures a year.  We all have paths.

It’s not a question of “if,” but of “which one.”  You’re not simply looking for a path to relationship; you’re on one!  You may have not met your future love yet, but they exist and your road is either leading you closer to them, or away from them.  You are on a path concerning your finances.  You are on a path concerning your relationship with God.  Even a heart of apathy, laziness, or a lack of concern is a path.

If I take Interstate Highway 40 East from Nashville, then I shouldn’t be surprised when I arrive in Knoxville.  Why?  Because that’s where the road leads to.  Such is true of every other part of life.  The road we are on is leading somewhere.

So, as this passage states, there are roads before us all that end in death.  Death of relationships.  Death of dreams.  Death of our bodies.  Death isn’t random as we assume it to be.  It takes us by surprise, but truth be told it is very predictable . . . the unpredictable part is when and where it will happen.  

We are all on a path that will eventually lead to physical death, but even that path can be drastically altered by our choices concerning fitness and health.  In other words, the journey towards death can take a different turn depending on which path we choose.

Concerning the death of the other things mentioned, it doesn’t necessarily have to happen every time like physical death– we have more choices.  That path that “seems right” is the one that we feel with our heart, yet may be the wrong choice.  That old heart can be deceptive, you know.  But he’s so cute!  Who cares if we don’t share the same spiritual maturity or even the same beliefs.  Ah, that’s a path that seems right at the outset, but will lead somewhere you don’t want to end up at.

It’s just one credit card!  Everyone else has them!  Again, the pathway to seemingly unrecoverable debt begins with a single step down the wrong path.

So, think about what paths you’re on and which ones you’d like to be on.  Remember that what seems like it could feel right doesn’t necessarily end where you want it to.  Get a map.  Ask directions.  Seek the wisdom of someone who has actually traveled a path you’d like to be on.





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