“Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools.” (Romans 1:22)
Statistics show that many people who give skiing a try—regardless of age—never return to the slope after their first day due to the fact that they were ill-prepared. Becoming a successful skier requires stability, strength, balance, and skill conditioning in order to prevent injuries. Not only do you require hand and eye coordination to navigate the terrain – you need a strong core to keep your back straight, strong knees and legs to keep you upright, and strong arms for steering. The right kind of training and sound instruction will enable you to enjoy the experience and effectively equip you to face the potential perils of going down a slippery slope. As we journey through life, there are times when we skid into situations that catch us completely off-guard. During this time of the year, for instance, if you live in a wintry area of the country – you can become injured very quickly by venturing outside on a wet, cold day. Without even considering the possibility of freezing outdoor surfaces, the hidden danger of falling on ‘black ice’ can easily elude us. While the after-effects of taking such a tumble can be funny if you are young and foolish, an accident like this can also leave a person who hits their head with a life-threatening injury or an elderly individual with a serious decline in health. When one is confronted with the possibility of facing extremes like this, it’s best to reflect as to whether it’s really worth placing your well-being at risk.
As we go about our normal day-to-day activities without the proper attention to our actions – we can also find ourselves going down an ethical slippery slope we never intended to be on. Examples could include flirtatious behaviors, increasing the amount of money we are willing to risk in games of chance, or allowing ourselves to become hooked on a few drinks at the close of each workday. God’s Word states, “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away” (James 1:14). How easy it can be to progress from what appears to be an acceptable practice to one that can alter the rest of one’s life. Take the case of four members of the 2017 World Series Championship team, who ended up in three different MLB franchises. Each of these individuals were released from their managerial positions due to their participation in a ‘sign stealing scandal’ which could have cost other teams the championship. Sign-stealing has become a long-standing baseball practice in which one team attempts to decode the constant exchange of signs by both the hitting and fielding teams during a baseball game. Players and coaches seek to gain advantage over their rivals by watching the opposition and trying to recognize patterns or sequences. Sign-stealing is as old as baseball itself, but stealing signs using cameras and other devices as done in this situation is illegal. Major League Baseball had taken prior steps to curtail sign-stealing in the digital age, including the issuance of warnings by the Commissioner about electronic sign-stealing.
The lesson here is that sometimes what ends up evolving as an acceptable practice can quickly become out-of-control, if we don’t exercise the proper checks and balances. Christians are not immune from what may seemingly be innocent activities that can easily grow into immoral habits. In fact – they may be more prone to be targeted. Scripture warns that followers of Christ need to “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). A wicked habit can become a corrupt character; a corrupt character can lead to a deadly destiny. We must listen to our instincts and not disregard that disquieting feeling when something doesn’t seem right or you’re asked to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable. Learn to surround yourself with individuals who have a good ‘moral compass,” whose values will stand strong in the face of bad behavior. We must define our personal code of conduct by being grounded in God’s Word. Otherwise one is simply meandering through life with a compass that has no sense of true north. As a result, you are walking on thin ice at the very least and may quickly be heading down the slippery slope of regret.
REFLECTION: Consider an example in your own life where the continued practice of innocent habits may have led to a devastating outcome. What precautions can you take to guard against temptation? How might you apply these reassuring words from Paul: “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure” (1 Corinthians 10:13)?