A friend of mine told me about a relative who went canoeing in the Okefenokee Swamp in the southern part of the United States. Being a novice in the canoe and new to the area, he was fascinated with the interesting ecosystem which supports a wide variety of animal and plant life including many species of reptiles, amphibians and an abundance of American alligators. As the trip went on and he became more at ease in his surroundings, his curiosity about the strange creatures around them increased.
While out on the water with his buddy one morning, his attention was captivated by a brightly colored snake swimming a yard or so away from the bow of the boat. Wanting to get a better look, he reached out with his paddle hoping to lift it out of the water. Rather than allowing itself to be casually studied, the startled serpent reacted and like lightning, shot up the paddle and bit him deeply on the hand.
The creature turned out to be a highly poisonous coral snake, and the bewildered man had to be airlifted out of the swamp for a lengthy hospital stay and a full round of anti-venom costing many thousands of dollars.
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Genesis 3:6
Eve had a natural curiosity about the world around her, and when the disguised enemy slipped up beside her and prodded her with an innocent sounding query (vs 1), she took a step closer to investigate. All she planned to do was reiterate the words God had spoken, (vs 2-3) but she underestimated the danger of continuing the conversation. Only a couple of verses later, she’s sewing fig leaves together, and we’re left to wonder how she could so quickly have forgotten the command she had just quoted. Simply entertaining the enemy’s twisted deception led her to make a mistake that overshadowed the rest of her days and enslaved all her descendants for all of human history.
Curiosity is a wonderful and divine gift that has led to many amazing discoveries and innovations, but for it to truly be beneficial, it must be kept in check within the boundaries of God’s commands. That often requires believers to carefully police their thoughts (Phil 4:8; Col 3:2-3) and diligently develop the strength to mentally (and sometimes physically) walk away from that which could potentially lead us away from the path of righteousness. It also demands that we set aside feelings -and even strong desires- to allow us to accurately assess the consequences of moving forward.
Think about Eve again. How different would things have been if she paused long enough to consider the implications of the disobeying the clear instructions God had so lovingly given? Could that have given her the strength to disengage and reject the serpent’s temptations?
Think about yourself. What kind of mental, physical or emotional pain could you avoid if you conscientiously remembered God’s warnings and believed that what He said was true? Could you avert an avoidable disaster? How could that change your present and, consequently, your future?
The New Testament encourages us to flee “all sorts of evil” and instead “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.” (1 Tim. 6:11). In today’s society that often means deleting a text, closing social media, ending a conversation, choosing not to click on a link, or just moving on to a new environment. So, before you stick your “paddle” out to get a closer look at something dangerous, pause long enough to consider whether the best option is to look in the other direction and paddle on to safer waters.