Friday, August 30, 2013

Reflections on Proverbs: The Toils of Sin, Part 4

Our verses for this series of posts on the toils of sin are as follows:

The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,
  and he is caught in the toils of his sin. Proverbs 5:22

There are six things which the Lord hates,
  seven which are an abomination to him;
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
  and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
  feet that make haste to run to evil,
false witness who breathes out lies,
  and a man who sows discord among brothers. Proverbs 6:16-19

This week, we're reflecting on hearts that devise wicked plans. Plotters and schemers. People who plan harm to others for whatever reason. We can sort of understand crimes of the moment, where emotions suddenly take over and reason shuts down, but there's a special sort of wickedness when people actually think through and plan to do evil.

Cold, hard, calculated evil.

It's odd, but when I think of wicked plans, I rarely picture the perpetrators in my mind. I think of the victims. When reflecting on the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the London underground bombings in 2007, or the attacks in Mumbai in 2008, I think of the victims. How are the families of the dead coping? How are survivors dealing with the shock and trauma and stress?

Have you been a victim of a plot or scheme? George and I recently had our credit card number stolen and used to purchase airline tickets to the middle east. We were shocked to learn how many of our friends had experienced similar theft. In fact, several of my friends have had to cancel stolen cards and get new cards twice in the past year!

Schemes like stealing credit card numbers or social security numbers do not come from righteous hearts. And is there anyone out on the internet who hasn't had a computer infected with a virus? These viruses are created by hearts with wicked plans.

It's hard for me to imagine wicked schemers taking time to read this blog, but I believe that when we talk about sin in others, we need to look for it in ourselves. How do we devise wicked plans?

Honestly, I'm stumped. The closest I can get is the lies we tell to get out of doing things we don't want to do, which hardly rate as plans. I suppose I've seen wicked plans carried out during nasty divorces of people I know, where one party plots to get revenge or more than his/her fair share through legal or illegal means.

But in my life, there simply haven't been wicked plots and schemes that I am aware of or can remember. Sure, there are spur-of-the-moment bad decisions, but to think through a plan of action of harm to another human being...that, thank you Jesus, isn't something I or the people around me seem to do.

This lack of awareness of sin sort of scares me. How am I blind to my own sin in this area? Am I plotting and not aware of it? Have I convinced myself that whatever plot I'm brewing is righteous and motivated by good?

For some reason Westboro Baptist pops into mind. I suspect that the people who plan and carry out protests at military funerals believe their plans are righteous and approved by God with every fiber of their beings. No doubt they believe that they are doing God's work in the world, facing sin and calling it out, judging it, condemning it.

How am I sinning in this terrible way, hatching plans that serve to hurt others and inflate my own sense of (self-)righteousness? How do my plans glorify me by stepping on others? How do I uncover this sin and repent?

How do I see my plans as God sees them: in plain and naked truth?

Hard questions. Only two responses come to mind.

1. Prayer.

Take my thoughts and plans to God. Listen to His answers to those prayers. Wait. Be patient. He will light the path forward with love. Any other path is sin.

2. Plot love.

First, imagine how much good could happen in the world if these evil schemers and plotters put their talents and attention and hearts to helping the world instead of hurting it.

Now, imagine how much good could happen if you plotted and schemed for love. If a heart that devises wicked plans is an abomination to God, then let our hearts devise loving plans, plans to lift others up in God's love and compassion, plans to praise and glorify Him, plans to be like Jesus and help others with an open hand.

If we fill our hearts with loving plans, we leave no room for the wicked plans.

How can you fill yourself up with God's love and leave no room for wicked plans?

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