Steve Ellison: Scooping Fire Into Your Lap

Saturday, April 1, 2017 - by Steve Ellison

I am currently reading through Proverbs 3 times in 3 consecutive months with a group.  Today’s topic must concern God a great deal because He speaks of it often.  I considered passing over the question found in Proverbs 6:27-28 because a very similar question was the focus a couple of articles ago.  Upon further consideration, I figured that God must have good reason for the repetition.   Taking special notice when God repeats Himself is always a good technique to use when studying the Scripture.

  He is certainly not simply filling space.


Proverbs 6:20-21 is a plea to take the commands of God, given through parents, seriously and to commit to living our daily lives according to these commands.  We are told to obey said commands and not forsake them.  We are told to make an effort to remember and revere these commands.  The next two verses, 22-23, give a short testimony to the general benefits of following God’s principles.  We are told that obedience to these principles will protect us as we walk and while we sleep.  It is also pointed out that following God’s commands will light our way and lead us to life. Verses 24-26 bring the focus down to a specific problem that evidently God finds particularly troubling: sexual immorality, specifically with another man’s wife.  One question is asked in two ways in Proverbs 6:27-28, “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?  Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?”(NIV) The answer is obviously, “No, he cannot”.   Verse 29 closes this short teaching on adultery by spelling out the answer in unmistakable bluntness.   It also offers a promise.   We like promises, especially promises from God.   We love to hear that God will faithfully keep His word, that He will always do what He says.   This time might be a little different.  Verse 29 is a promise from God, “So is he who sleeps with another man's wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished.” (NIV)  God is promising that just as surely as a man cannot scoop fire into his lap without being burned and just as surely as a man cannot walk on hot coals without being burned, so a man cannot get away with this sin.  He will surely be punished.  Do not let God’s patience and long-suffering mercy fool you into thinking that you will never be called into account.  


Women should not think that this promise/warning does not apply to them, for it certainly does.   Just because it uses a man as the example does not mean that women are exempt.  It appears that in the United States today, it is virtually equally likely that women as well as men will commit this terrible sin.   The trail of devastated spouses, dysfunctional families, broken homes, and single-parent households is impossible to miss. The tragedy of neglected, abused and abandoned children is absolutely heartbreaking.    Certainly not all of this is caused by adultery but a significant portion is.  Often it starts there.   It is always good to keep God’s promises in front of your eyes, foremost in your mind and close to your heart.   This promise is no different.  When you begin to notice and be attracted to one who belongs to another, flee. Flee because it is the right thing to do; flee because of the destruction that will come; flee because of God’s promise to punish.  Scooping fire into your own lap and walking on hot coals are always bad ideas with terrible, terrible consequences.  And those consequences play out for generations.

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