Led Astray by the Sweet Aroma

Proverbs 5

Have you ever tasted vanilla extract? Vanilla extract is a kitchen ingredient that has a decadent scent. Whenever I use it in recipes, I am always tempted by its sweet vanilla aroma. However, I know better because of giving into this temptation when I was a young child. I remember when helping my grandma make cookies, I smelled the extract. It smelled so nice. So, I tried a bit and quickly spit it out as it was very bitter. Did you have the same reaction?

Vanilla extract smells as though it should be pleasing to the taste buds, but it leads us astray. It is, in fact, not delicious as its scent would make us believe. It instead leaves us with the desire to wash our mouths out.

In Proverbs 5 an adulteress in mentioned. The adulteress, it reads, has lips that drip honey, but in the end are actually bitter. Much like the seductive nature of the adulteress, so is sin in our lives. The things that tempt us may look good at first. But in the end will only be bitter to us. What looks pleasing to us in the moment, may not be so pleasing if we fall into the temptation.

The book of Proverbs time and time again tells us to listen to instruction so that we may be able to stay away from temptation. My grandma had told me that the vanilla extract was bitter and that I would not like it. But I didn’t listen. I could have avoided the bitter taste, but I was led astray by the sweet aroma. I forsook her instruction for the vanilla extract that looked pleasing in the moment.

-Hannah Deane

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Kings 1-2 and Proverbs 5

Judy’s Candy Bar Story

Proverbs 5

Proverbs 5 23 NIV

Solomon begins Proverbs 5 again reminding us to seek out God’s wisdom. We must not only hear the wisdom offered, but we must absorb that wisdom and apply it to our lives, so that we can make wise and moral decisions.  Then your “lips may preserve knowledge”.  In other words, the things we say will be full of knowledge and insight.  Solomon knows that we need God’s wisdom to help us make wise choices, because we are constantly facing temptations.

Solomon continues the chapter talking about our temptations, using the example of an adulterous woman.  He says, “For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil.” (Proverbs 5:3) Simply put, this means that this immoral woman may come to you with sweet, flattering words.  She will look and sound very tempting.  She will tell you whatever it takes to lure you into believing that sexually sinning with her will bring you nothing but joy and happiness.

However, the next few verses go on to say, “But in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.  She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.”  (Proverbs 5:4-6)  In verse 3 it seemed as though the woman was offering bliss, but we find out in these verses that she actually will lead us to suffering and death.  You notice it says “her steps lead straight to the grave”.  We are all moving on a path.  Each day we make countless decisions that are leading us down a path.  We need to be using the wisdom God has provided to us in the Bible to make sure we are making choices leading us on the right path.

In verse eight Solomon goes on to offer this advice, “Keep to a path far from her (the adulteress), do not go near the door of her house.”  The message here is stay as far away from temptation as possible.  Do not put yourself in situations that will tempt you to sin.

The story of Judy’s chocolate bar is the perfect illustration of the stay-as-far-away-from-temptation-as-possible principle.  Judy loves chocolate.  In fact, Judy loves chocolate too much, so she decides to not eat chocolate for a month.  One day, after deciding to give up chocolate for a month, Judy is at the grocery store buying food for dinner.  While at the store, Judy decides to just go down the aisle where the chocolate is.  She is not going to buy any, she just wants to look at it.  As she gets closer to the chocolate she notices that it is on sale.  Judy decides to purchase just one bar of chocolate.  She will not eat it now, but it is on such a good sale, she wants to take advantage of the bargain and buy it for later.  When she gets home from the store, she keeps thinking of the chocolate bar that is now sitting in her cupboard. Judy believes that just getting to smell the chocolate will be very satisfying and help her to stop craving the chocolate, so she unwraps the chocolate bar and takes a large whiff of the delicious chocolate.  It smells incredible.  Judy sets a small piece of the chocolate on her tongue, not to eat it, but just to take a little lick.  You guessed it, soon the chocolate is gone!  Judy devours the entire bar.  The question is, when would it have been easiest for Judy to refrain from eating the chocolate? Would it have been easier to not eat the chocolate when it was sitting in the wrapper in the cupboard, or when it was sitting on Judy’s tongue?  What if Judy had never gone down the chocolate aisle at the store, but had instead just gone to the fresh produce section?

We need to constantly pursue wisdom, so that we can make God-pleasing choices.  We must be vigilant so that we do not believe any of the world’s lies. And finally, when we have identified what our stumbling blocks are, we must stay far away and avoid those temptations.

Jill McClain