Monday, December 29, 2014

Dangerous Liaisons

(Originally posted January 5, 2012)

"Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life." -- Proverbs 4:23
Any man or woman with a shred of romance in their soul can relate to the movie, "An Affair to Remember." Full of memorable quotes, one that stands out in my mind is, "You don't plan these things...they just happen." When it comes to matters of the heart, though, sometimes "these things" can be prevented and disaster can be averted.

Take, for instance, the classic office romance. A new employee is hired, or two co-workers collaborate on a project and over the course of time an innocent collaboration becomes an emotional attachment that has the potential of becoming a full-blown illicit affair. With little warning, seemingly innocent relationships become dangerous liaisons as emotions burn out of control like a wildfire and eventually someone -- possibly an innocent spouse or significant other -- gets burned. A marriage goes up in flames, lives are ruined, and the romance that sparked it all is extinguished, leaving wounded hearts smoldering and scarred. Think it can't happen to you? Oh, yes, it can if you don't guard your heart!

At the moment we are saved, God's Holy Spirit comes to live within us and provides that "check in our spirit" that signals danger. If you are flirting with emotions toward an individual who is not your spouse, then clearly you have left your heart unguarded and vulnerable to the deception of the enemy, who seeks to destroy your marriage and damage your reputation.    Perhaps you are not married, but the other individual is.  No matter how unhappy he or she may be in their marriage, it is just as wrong for you to desire a relationship with that married individual as it would be for you to compromise your own marriage. 

As Christians, we are not immune to these affairs of the heart, but we are equipped with the weapons to resist the enemy, if we choose to.  If you find yourself in a situation where you feel your affection for your spouse has been compromised by your feelings for a co-worker, neighbor, or other individual with whom you have frequent, close contact, ask yourself why you feel the way you do.  Is it because the other person makes you feel appreciated and valued for what you do for him or her when, at home, you merely feel taken for granted?   Sometimes it is not the love of another individual that steals our affection, but simply the expression of appreciation from someone outside our own family and the sense of importance and fulfillment that our work gives us as a result.  Whichever the case may be, we allow that individual or sense of importance to become an idol, displacing God in our hearts and making room for a host of destructive emotions and behaviors.

Guard your heart vigilantly -- no one but you can. Look to the One whose affections and approval matter above all others and seek to please Him, rather than any man or woman. Ask God, who created you for a relationship with Him, to purify your heart, renew your love for Him and your spouse, and give you a sense of purpose as you surrender your service to Him. No man, or woman, is as faithful as our God. It is God's approval and love you should be seeking, even if that requires you to leave your job or sever communications with that person who has taken center stage in your mind and in your heart. 

If your fear of losing income or possessions causes you to stay in a situation where you know you don't belong, consider the higher cost you may have to pay if you stay and ask God for a way out.   "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).

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