As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.
A speaker at a Promise Keepers conference referred to this proverb. The picture here is visually unpleasant—and that’s saying it nicely. My dog has confirmed for me the first part of this proverb, but God’s Word for us has to do with the second part. If you or I keep returning to our foolishness, we will keep doing things that we shouldn’t do.
All of us have habits. Some of them help us live wisely, and some do not. Some can be downright destructive and sinful. God’s call to a disciplined life means I need to find ways to break away from bad habits that undermine my discipleship. I need to turn away from foolish patterns that keep tempting me.
Sheer willpower always fails us. Our return to “vomit” is almost instinctive. That’s when we realize we need to clean up not just individual acts but a whole pattern of living. The conference speaker was addressing the problem of pornography and its easy access through the Internet. But we can apply this proverb to a lot of sinful things.
Jesus says, “If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off” (Matthew 5:30). He didn’t mean that literally, but he did mean that it can take drastic action to walk away from our folly. Sometimes when the garbage is too tempting, that’s what wisdom demands.
Lord, thank you for habits of self-discipline that we have already learned. Please give us the strength and wisdom to get rid of our garbage and to cultivate additional good habits. In Jesus, Amen.
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