If sinners entice you, don't consent.--Proverbs 1:10
Just say no. We've heard it on television ads, seen it on billboards, read it in newspapers. Three words that carry a lot of punch. Three words that may have helped countless numbers of young people avoid the tragic consequences of addiction. These three words remind us that we have choices in our lives. We are not left to play out someone else's programs for life, even though pressure may be placed on us to do so. We always have the right to choose between virtue and vice.
The difficulty lies in finding a compelling reason to choose virtue. Virtue seems like such a dull choice. A choice that leaves us 'out of the loop.' A choice that carries no enjoyment or passion. A choice that seems to make us uninteresting prudes who have not 'gotten a life.' Vice, on the other hand, is incredibly attractive. It promises adventure, surprise, ardor. It is a choice that takes us to places we may never have been before. It is a choice that nudges us off the same merry-go-round of life that once was exciting, but has become too familiar, too regular, too routine. As John Steinbeck wrote in East of Eden, "Vice has always a new fresh young face." Vice makes us feel animated and alive in the midst of a tedious and tiresome existence.
So, when evil disguised as excitement lurks nearby calling out our name in the softest, most delectable tones, "just say no" seems nothing more than a moralistic, guilt-producing phrase that is intended to kill the joy that life has to offer. We tell ourselves, "I am an adult and can make my own decisions." And without further thought, we say 'yes' to vice. Then the night comes and we lie in silence under the purest stars of heaven, and wish we could return to who we were before we said 'yes.' And, when the morning creeps across the window, calling us to greet a new day, our first thought is the memory of saying 'yes' and being unable to undo what we have done. Vice may be adventurous and exciting, but virtue keeps our soul untarnished and our heart at peace. "Virtue," says Steinbeck, "is venerable as nothing else in the world is."
Oh God, when my heart is pure, I have the chance to see your face mirrored in my own soul. Keep me clear and pure before you.
These meditations first appeared at explorefaith.org
Please use the share button at the top to share with friends and loved ones. Thanks!