"Can a leopard take away its spots? Neither can you start doing good, for you always do evil."
- Jeremiah 13:23 NLT
I know a lady who was being used and emotionally abused by her husband. She would write to me on a regular basis, asking for prayer and advice. When she could take no more of her husband's mistreatment, she divorced him, and resigned herself to living without him. One of the reasons why this woman stayed in a destructive relationship for so long was because she had a chronic illness, and she depended on her husband's medical insurance for her care. Throughout her trials and tribulations, she had the support of loving family members and friends who desperately wanted to see her break free from her tormentor. Nevertheless, a year or so later, she wrote me and told me that she had remarried this man, because she believed he had changed his ways. Instead, she described to me the same behavior that had caused her to leave him in the first place. When I reproved her for her foolishness, she became indignant, and I haven't heard from her since.
Scripture says: "Can a leopard take away its spots? Neither can you start doing good, for you always do evil." (Jeremiah 13:23 NLT) Sometimes Christians can focus so much on the redeeming power of God in people's lives, that they can ignore the warning signs that the Spirit of God tries to give them about those who remain unrepentant. I have no doubts that this man went to great lengths to deceive this woman. But I also believe that this lady wanted so much to believe that the man she loved had truly changed, that she allowed herself to be deceived.
The Bible says, "It is better to trust the Lord than to put confidence in people." (Psalm 118:8 NLT) This lady had some very real and pressing medical needs, but instead of relying on God to supply them, she chose to depend on a man who mistreated her. The Lord often uses people to meet our needs, but He doesn't want us to be dependent upon them; He wants us to depend on Him alone. This woman chose to take what she thought was the easy way out, and it cost her dearly.
Jesus said, "Be on your guard against men." (Matthew 10:17 NIV) The Amplified translation puts it this way: "Be on guard against men [whose way or nature is to act in opposition to God]." The Lord doesn't want us to have suspicious minds, but He does want us to be discerning. We are not going to be much use to God if we are constantly being deceived and thrown off course by people who have less than good intentions. That's one reason why Jesus told us to beware of those who are wolves disguised in sheep's clothing. (Matthew 7:15) He said, "You will fully know them by their fruits." (Matthew 7:20 AMP) Sooner or later, they will show their true colors. So we should keep a close watch on those who we have doubts about.
One of the saddest parts of this story is that this woman had been blessed with a network of loving family and friends who had supported her through her times of trouble, and who had keenly felt her pain. How bitter a pill it must have been for them to swallow when their loved one chose to return to the destructive relationship that they longed to see her rescued from. Scripture says, "He who brings trouble on his family will inherit only wind." (Proverbs 11:29 NIV) Those who ignore the pain and trouble they inflict on their families by their selfish and foolish behavior will be held accountable by God Himself.
The redeeming power of God is undeniable and awesome, but it only reaches into the lives of those who truly surrender themselves to the Lord. In all our dealings, let us use the supernatural wisdom and discernment that belong to us in Christ through the power of His indwelling Spirit. As it is written: "He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe." (Proverbs 28:26 NIV)
Prayer: Lord, teach me to be discerning in every situation and circumstance. Guard me from a suspicious mind, but don't let me be easily deceived. When I'm tempted to take the easy way out, and to depend on myself or others instead of You, remind me of what it can cost me. Thank You that as I live for You and follow Your lead, I will enjoy Your best in every area of my life!
- J. M. Farro