By Kyle Idleman
One of my family’s favorite summer activities is spending quality time sitting around and enjoying the fire pit in our backyard. My kids love being outdoors and the fire pit serves as the perfect place to barbecue outdoor meals, roast marshmallows and make s’mores. When the seasons change and the temperature drops, our fire pit allows us to continue enjoying time outdoors while providing warmth and light. The comfort and ambience of an outdoor fire pit is a good thing.
If you happen to purchase a fire pit, you’ll notice it comes with an instruction manual. I recently decided to pull out the manual that came along with ours and found a series of warnings. One warning is, “Don’t use indoors.” Wow. That seems pretty obvious, but I guess that’s a good thing to know.
Another warning states, “Don’t use on a wood surface.” I probably should have read the manual earlier because I’ve already used our fire pit on top of our deck many times.
The next warning instructs, “Don’t use gasoline to start the fire in the fire pit.” I learned the hard way why this is not a good idea. The explosion was so loud our neighbors ran over to see what happened.
Yet another warning is to not let children get too close to the fire. That one is probably self-explanatory but that’s not all of them; the warnings continue.
Is this because fire is a bad thing? A fire safely contained in a fire pit is actually a good thing but fire outside a fire pit can be very dangerous and destructive.
Many warnings exist for things that are very good.
For example, the Bible is full of warnings about sex. Why? Is sex a bad thing? Absolutely not. Sex safely contained in a marriage between a husband and wife is a good thing, but sex outside of marriage is destructive. God gave us sex as a gift but provided us with warnings on when and how because it is so powerful and dangerous when used outside its context.
The Bible makes the comparison of sexual lust to a fire in Job 31. Job explains the commitment he made to God, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman” (Job 31:1). Then Job talks about the kind of temptations he could have given into, “If my heart has been enticed by a woman, or if I have lurked at my neighbor’s door” (Job 31:9). Then, Job makes the comparison of lust to fire, “It is a fire that burns to Destruction; it would have uprooted my harvest” (Job 31:12).
Job says if he gave into sexual temptation, it could have destroyed everything he had worked for and even taken away everything he loved.
I know far too many men who have given into sexual temptation – whether to lust at women on their computer, or to sleep with women they’re not married to – and each time has resulted in exactly that. It destroyed their marriages, damaged relationships, took away the trust of kids and messed up lifelong careers and goals.
That’s why we need to make the same commitment Job made, “I have made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.”
Many of us have probably discovered that making that commitment is much easier than keeping that commitment. We simply can’t carry this out on our own. We need to turn to God and live out purity in his power, not ours’.
We also need to turn to trustworthy people for encouragement and accountability. In my own life, I have decided this has to be an area where I have NO secrets. I’m not saying I don’t have any struggles, but I am saying I don’t have any secrets.
I have men in my life who ask me the hard questions. I’ve gone to my father when I needed help. I have accountability with my wife in this area. My computer provides accountability through software that sends her a list of all the websites I go to. I have no secrets and I have a group of people who keep me accountable.
You always have a choice. No one accidentally has secrets and everyone has the opportunity to come clean and at any time.
Let me leave you with some questions:
- Have you made a covenant with your eyes?
- Are you committed to keeping the fire in the fire pit, so you, and the people you love, don't get burned?
- Are you trying to stay pure through the strength of your will power, or through a radical reliance on God’s power?
- Do you have any secrets?
- Who is asking you the hard questions you can’t ask yourself?
- If you’re married, do you have accountability with your spouse in this area?