My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.  If they say, Come with us; let us lie in wait [to shed] blood, let us ambush the innocent without cause [and show that his piety is in vain];  Let us swallow them up alive as does Sheol (the place of the dead), and whole, as those who go down into the pit [of the dead]; We shall find and take all kinds of precious goods [when our victims are put out of the way], we shall fill our houses with plunder; Throw in your lot with us [they insist] and be a sworn brother and comrade; let us all have one purse in common–

My son, do not walk in the way with them; restrain your foot from their path;  For their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.  For in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird!  But [when these men set a trap for others] they are lying in wait for their own blood;  they set an ambush for their own lives.  So are the ways of everyone who is greedy of gain; such [greed for plunder] takes away the lives of its possessors.                  Proverbs 1:10-19

 So, this excerpt from chapter 1 has caught my attention today.  First, I will admit, I had to look up piety in the dictionary.  I found that it meant reverence for God among other things.  While I was using the dictionary, I also decided to look up plunder which was defined as loot or anything taken by robbery, theft, or fraud.  I think this one is great to start off with- A father advising his son to resist the pressure of his peers to commit awful deeds for the sake of a “common purse”.  The group has devised a plan to ambush innocent passersby in order to take their valuables,etc.  They hope to lure the lad to take part in their deeds and become an official part of the group.  In short, they’re looking for a new recruit… 

Now what does dear old dad have to say about this?  He is advising his son to stay away from such groups.  He warns of the danger of engaging in such activities. Quite frankly, he advises him that payback comes with that sort of a lifestyle.  “But [when these men set a trap for others] they are lying in wait for their own blood;  they set an ambush for their own lives. ”   This truth is repeated over and over in the bible.  It’s the seedtime and harvest principle- you’ll reap whatever you sow.  Many times the harvest is not immediate.  It takes time to bring in a crop.  However, just as a seed that’s planted will eventually come up if it’s not uprooted, so will our words and deeds whether we mean them to or not. Dad is warning Jr. that these fellows and those like them are going to reap a terrible harvest although they probably don’t realize it.   

Folly loves company.  The first thing that came to mind when I read this excerpt was gangs.  Street gangs, among others, are infamous for plotting attacks and chasing plunder.  In order for these gangs to survive, they must actively recruit new members- whether it is through fear and intimidation or through painting the life of a thug as glamorous and a thing to be sought after, fresh blood is always necessary.  No doubt, peer pressure has its part to play in the process as well.  Kids need help to say no to the heavy pressure their environment is placing on them everyday.  They need instruction, as this father from Proverbs is giving his son, guidance (shown through how one’s life is lived before the child not from just what is said to the child), love (unconditional), committment (they have to know that an adult is committed to them and their future – that they are on their side and that their thoughts are for the child’s success), self- worth and value (to be derived from a relationship with Christ).  Then, they will have the proper tools to withstand the pressures of this world and make the right choices. 

Of course, a street gang is only one type of gang.  What about the office gang, or the gossip gang, or even the church gang?  I’m sure most of us have had the unfortunate opportunity to be asked to chime in on someone’s reputation, their job performance, or even their moral character.  Of course, the proposal is more subtle than this one from Proverbs but just as indecent to be sure. We’re invited to take part in a lethal tongue lashing of the intended victim. It may start off by the person saying something that seems to be kind about the individual, but then it turns to something else… the person’s faults (whether real or imagined, or just plain made up for evil puposes) are now being highlighted in a manner that invites our agreement.  Before taking part in such sessions, take care to consider the advice from above… “My son, do not walk in the way with them; restrain your foot from their path;  For their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.”   Although the plunder may look attractive to you at the time, there is always the big payback to consider.  Your tongue is sowing seed for your own destruction when you take part in such activities.  It is helping you to set an ambush for your own life, yet on a grander scale.  The harvest is always more than the seed planted… and payback is the reward for the plunder. 

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