Twisted Logic

August 25th, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 2: 12-15 (NLT)

12 Wisdom will save you from evil people,
      from those whose words are twisted.
 13 These men turn from the right way
      to walk down dark paths.
 14 They take pleasure in doing wrong,
      and they enjoy the twisted ways of evil.
 15 Their actions are crooked,
      and their ways are wrong.

 

Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

 

Most of the major injuries in life have occurred while playing basketball.  Twice I’ve had broken ribs from hostile elbows.  I’ve had busted lips and rolled ankles more times than I can count.  I’ve collided with other players, fallen down and bloodied my knees on scorching hot concrete, and have had dirty fingers poke deep into my eye sockets and leave them stinging from my opponents’ perspiration (I know, it’s gross.)  I’ve taken point blank shots to the nose by lightening fast chest passes and have stubbed my fingers to the point that I’ve wanted to cry.  Yeah, it’s amazing that I still play at all.  Obviously, I’m the picture of athleticism and coordination.

The worst basketball injury that I can remember, though, occurred on a Sunday afternoon when Laura and I lived in Knoxville, Tennessee.  I was youth pastoring (as usual) and brought home a group of students to our little apartment after church to hang out.  Some of the guys and myself ended up at our local health club for a pick-up game.  Unfortunately, this particular club didn’t have a conventional basketball court and had mounted a goal in one of their vacant racquetball courts.  It was a place I had played many times before, so I thought nothing about it.

The game was going fine until I dribbled left and pulled up for a turn-around jump shot from the corner. Inadvertently, instead of jumping straight up off the floor, my foot planted in the corner where the floor and the wall met.  I don’t recall everything that happened next, except that I heard and loud and distinct “snap” in my ankle and I instantly fell to the floor in a heap.  Oddly enough, I also remember that I actually made the shot . . . the last shot I would attempt for a long time.

To say that my ankle was twisted is the understatement of the decade.  It instantly swelled up to the size of a gargantuin grapefruit.  Sure, I tried what every would-be macho man tries: walking it off– another huge mistake.  When it was all said and done, my students had to help me walk back to the van and I had sustained the worst “twisted” ankle of my life.

Some seven years later, I still have phantom pain in my ankle if certain weather conditions are met.  That twisted ankle has left me with a lasting pain.

We must continually remind ourselves of the nature of these first few chapters of Proverbs.  This is a father speaking to his son.  He’s not trying to be politically correct.  He’s not trying to win any popularity contests. He’s not running for office.  No vagueness.  No pulled punches.  Just fatherly truth spoken in raw candidness.  

Also notice the adjective he uses more than once: “twisted.”  The passage is about the possible detrimental influence of others.  “But that’s judgemental!”  Yeah, go ask a few prison inmates if who they hung out with influenced their decisions in life.  For that matter, just ask yourself.  Like it or not, we are who we hang out with.

The focus of this passage isn’t just judging “evil people,” but rather avoiding the things that evil people do. Notice Solomon’s progression of thought: “words (verse 12) . . . paths (verse 13) . . . actions (14-15).” That’s really an accurate portrayal of how quickly we can snap a spiritual ankle.  

Words are the most obvious evidence of who we hang around.  Just be around the guys from my band for a couple of hours and you’ll quickly learn that we’ve created our own language complete with inside jokes, imaginary words, and substitutional expletives that are more acceptable in our culture.  If you have close friends, I bet you can name a few words that are only used in your circle.  There’s nothing wrong with this, unless we’re speaking words that are contrary to our connection with God.  We may not be “doing” anything wrong per se, but we’re definitely talking the the talk.

Talk will lead to action every time.  What we say is a reflection of who we are, thus a preview of what we will eventually do.  Sound too simple?  Again, most people don’t just jump into the wrong thing . . . they begin by spending time with someone who’s doing the wrong thing, then talking about doing the wrong thing, and then leaning towards that wrong action.  That’s the next stage: the “path” (verse 13.)  This stage doesn’t indicate that we’ve arrived at the wrong place just yet, just that we’re now on the path that will eventually lead us there.

Paths don’t have to be negative.  You can’t get a degree from a university without first “talking” to a advisor and then signing up for a certain “path” of courses that will lead you to your goal.  The path is the middle ground.  It’s the place where fences are ridden and excuses are made.  Why?  Because you may not be actually “doing” anything wrong.  However, from where you’re standing, it’s hard to distinguish between you and those who are actually doing the action.  Hey, put me on a college campus with a hoodie, shorts, backpack, hat, and sandles– most people will assume that I’m a college student.  Why?  Because I’m walking the same path as the other students.

The final stage is “action” (verse 14-15.)  We talk about it enough, hang around on the path around it enough, soon we’ll be engaging it in action.  The result?  “Twisted” life.  Often, we surprised when we look up to realize what we’re doing– that’s the deceptive nature of the progression.  It’s like the frog placed in the kettle of lukewarm water who will remain there if the temperature is turned up gradually.  Eventually, he’ll boil to death . . . unaware of danger because he’s so comfortable in the water.  But Godly “wisdom” will save us from this pain.  

My injury was caused mainly because I jumped from a non-level spot.  That’s all Solomon is saying to his son (and us): live on the level spot, not in the place where life can get twisted.  And remember, our choices in who we allow to influence us will affect how we talk, what path we walk on, and eventually our very actions.

Take it from a battered basketball veteran: you don’t want these things getting twisted.  And trust me, when they do, it’s not that easy to just walk it off.  Use wisdom now before the injury happens.

 

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~ by johndriver on August 25, 2008.

7 Responses to “Twisted Logic”

  1. okay well i read a lot of these and i never write anything on any of these but this one i liked a lot you put it in words that i couldn’t even imagine to…. i started to hang out with the wrong people when school started up YEAH,i had fun with them.BUT i let them go because they were pulling me away from God. and my mom sat down and talked to me and said i need to stop being so judgmental. BUT really i was not being judgmental i was just not trying to get “TWISTED” up in something i dint need to be.

    when i get myself into situations that i shouldn’t be in or i shouldn’t have done,i know i shouldn’t have and i know it was an unchristian thing but that’s what we have to do is learn from our mistakes. we ARE NOT perfect and WE ARE goin to make mistakes and its NOT goin to be easy just ” walking it off” it takes time you just cant FORGET about it.GOD FORGiVES. so when you said “you don’t want these things getting twisted. And trust me, when they do, it’s not that easy to just walk it off.” thats what i thought

    p.s~~ THE briley!! =))

  2. I like this verse!! If we use wisdom then we wont get stuck in bad situations with the wrong people. We really are who we hang out with, i have alot of different friends who all like doing different things, and i dont act the same with all of them, im not saying im a totally different person, but there are just some things i do with friends that i dont do with other friends. And it can all be traced back to the people i was with cause they do that stuff so i’ll do it when im with them and when im not with them i wont thing about it usually.

    Most of us dont use wisdom then we freak out when something doesnt turn out the way we planned, and we never really seem to realize that we are dumb and shouldnt have even done it in the first place! Thats why we get into sticky situations and im sure God is just sittin up there thinkin if they would just listen they would know this would happen….im glad God is a patient God cause everyone messed up and everyone gets into things we shouldnt and he stills loves us just the same =]]

    i think that was on topic but who knows!!

  3. This is officially my favorite devotion because it involves my theme in life! Influence! I have come to discover how powerful influence can be. This verse does show us how people can be “twisted,” and lead us down that twisted path as well. Twisted friends are a scary thought. Sometimes it is very hard to see through their deception and before I know it, they have lead me down the wrong path. Thinking about how quickly that can happen made me think about my own twisted self. I need to be very attentive with my talk, walk, and actions. I don’t want to forget that those three words could go the positive way! In our talk, we can have fun, but be aware of right and wrong. In our walk, we can illuminate Christ through us. In our actions, we can ask ourselves, “Is what I’m doing pleasing to God?” Influence is so powerful, especially over the people who you are closest with. Hebrews 12:13 has helped me so much this summer because it talks about this very same subject. “Mark out a straight path for your feet, so that those who are weak and lame will not fall, but become strong.”

  4. this is crazy. it happens to deal with something i have kind of been going through and experienced this weekend. i used to hang out with the cheerleaders and some other people. yes they are fun and cool people, but i always felt like they were holding something back and like i had to try so hard not to give in and do some of the things they did. this weekend i was invited to hang out with a group of people that i used to be close to. it was fun, but i saw who they really are and just how bad it is. to the world its “okay”, but to me i couldnt stand it. you dont realize how much the words people say can stick with you…
    ive recently developed new friendships with some amazing people. my life is great and i can be myself! there is no temption to do wrong when im with them.. i am so thankful for the people i have in my life!
    its so easy to get caught up in being with the cool people or even acting like them, but its not worth it in the end! stay with God and you wont have to worry about walking off and away from the twisted path! 🙂

  5. the only thing i had time to read ,unfortunately,was the verse.I got alot from it ,but still would have liked to read the whole blog!)
    This verse definatly applies to my life,and really everyone’s!The world has crazy ideas,that us as christians don’t need to listen to!Although it can be tough sometimes not to give in to peer preasure and things of that sort,we need to stick with what we know about wha twe need to do in our own lives!
    Ashten:)

  6. 😀

  7. This is something I have been thinking about this past week. I have grown very close with the girls on my hall. We sleep, eat, study, and hang out together…It’s to be expected. However, I was sitting with them in our lounge the other night and I just really began to examine how I was acting…I was still myself, don’t get me wrong. However, within a week (it seems so much longer) I had already picked up similar habits, we were shouting out inside jokes, and so on and so forth. I began to realize that I was more sarcastic when everyone was being sarcastic and loud. I was more calm when everyone was being quiet. I think this is normal…different people bring out different parts of our personality, which I think is a good thing, however it really made me realize how much we can be influenced in a short period of time. I was also thinking of this, but on a slighty different level a few nights ago. Obviously I am meeting new people everywhere I go, and when you do get a chance to sit down and get to know them you learn a lot about them by the way they are talking…One person was complaining about all the rules…another was talking about sneaking out of the dorm….While these girls and guys are great people and fun to hang out with and not doing anything WRONG, I just picked up on little hints that kind of warned me that I may not want to become “best friends” with them because they might not be going where I want to go.

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