During the five-plus years my family lived in Africa, my kids hated getting fevers. Because with every fever, we tested for malaria.
Pricking their little finger pads the size of a pencil eraser, I’d squeeze out a single ruby drop on a stick that looked like a pregnancy test. You can imagine how fun it is to wrangle a sick toddler for that vampiric delight.
But there was a man who came on a short-term trip during our tenure. He developed the symptoms, but failed to test and treat.
His grieving family retrieved his body at the airport.
Malaria is a parasite, see. It consumes the blood of the infected.
I tell you this because I’m afraid emotional affairs can be similarly swift and fatal—partially because we aren’t honest about them with ourselves. With God. Jeremiah warns, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (17:9).
It’s just friendship, We might think. It’s been so long since anyone even noticed me. It was so nice just to talk and be seen, heard, understood.
(Did I mention malaria, too, can bring delusions?)
Bring those thoughts to the Test: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24).
And don’t neglect treatment. (See today’s action points.) Keep yourself from rationalizing the danger of opening your heart to someone who isn’t your spouse.
The good stuff: My son, keep your father's commandment, and forsake not your mother's teaching. ... For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, to preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress. (Proverbs 6:20,23-24)
- Ask God to relentlessly expose what’s truly in your heart’s bloodstream, feeding your mind and actions.
- Bring in a godly, truthful, same-gender friend for accountability.
- Like Joseph, flee (Genesis 39:12). Cut yourself from whatever activities may tempt you (Matthew 5:29).
- Bathe yourself in God’s unflinching Word.
- Share all social media and electronic passwords with your spouse, and develop mutual boundaries about being alone with the opposite gender.
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