This week, we looked at some common pitfalls: the desire for influence, the desire for pleasure, the desire for recognition, and the desire for good work. All these desires spring from good, and all have the potential to go horribly wrong. Without the strength of wisdom, they can produce those who are concerned with their positions of power over helping others, those intent on sexual pleasure no matter the context or consequence, those who are prideful, and those who are workaholics. But within God’s proper boundaries, these desires can be used to influence others for good, for sexual fulfillment in the appropriate relationship, to live for God’s recognition, and to faithfully serve others.
The proverbs this week contrasted a vice to avoid with a virtue to pursue from our God-given strength. They help put in context our relationships and work—in homes, careers, churches, and communities—and give us the right perspective to live wisely in these realms. Through this, we grasp a bigger picture for God’s work in our relationships (even the frustrating ones), our jobs (including those that feel menial), and our homes (big or small, messy or organized). This perspective gives us the opportunity to channel our strength for God’s service, and this helps us make wise decisions about our jobs, families, and time. Overcoming temptations, then, doesn’t just mean giving up something, but allowing God to use our strengths for something bigger.
- Which of these areas—ambition, sexual immorality, pride, or improper work balance (whether slothful or workaholic)—do you struggle with the most?
- How does this temptation reveal one of your strengths?
- What virtue can remedy the vice so you can use your strength wisely for others instead of selfishly?
- What one practical thing can you do over the next couple of weeks to practice this?
- Whom can you invite into this journey with you to hold you accountable?
Reflect on the above questions and consider how you can use your strengths and talents to live wisely.