Imagine the following conversation between a daddy bass and a child bass: “Now son, there are all kinds of delicious things for you to eat down here. There are bugs and mosquitoes that float up on the surface of the water, and when it rains sometimes big, fat, juicy worms are swept from land into the lake and they are delicious for sure. But you’ve got to be careful with those. I’ve seen good friends latch onto a worm and then just shoot straight up through the water and disappear altogether. One tiny little friend came back and shared the most amazing adventure. He said he bit on the worm and felt something sharp go through his top lip. Before he knew it, he was being dragged up faster than he could have ever swum. A huge hand grabbed him and pulled on him, he was held up in the air for a few seconds gulping for air, and then, wham, he was thrown back into the water. Some of the fish didn’t believe his story, but I saw the scar on his lip and I believe it. So, before you go biting into a big juicy worm, look to make sure there isn’t anything shiny poking out, and no thin little string going up out of the worm… or you might never come back to us.”
Bait! It’s the worm we use to trick fish to bite on a hook so we can catch, kill and eat it. Bait! It’s the cheese we put into the mousetrap so that a steel rod will smash their neck and do away with them. Bait is all about predator and prey. Bait is about seduction. It’s about getting someone to put down their common sense and natural defenses so that we can lure them in for the kill.
In Proverbs 7, the writer provides a scenario of predator and prey. In this case, it’s the young man and the prostitute. (I know, pretty racy stuff in the Bible). The young man goes out onto the street in the evening, on the edge of danger. Maybe he’s not intending anything bad, but he’s curious. He’s heard that this is the “bad” part of town. His parents have warned him to stay away, but maybe his friends have told stories about the fun that’s to be had there. So he goes out to see. And out comes the prostitute with her seductive clothing and seductive words as she seeks to lure him back into her house where she promises to show him a good time.
Her body and her words are the bait. How will it end for the young man? About the same as it does for the fish who bites the worm or the mouse who goes for the cheese. It usually ends in death. Oh, maybe not right away. Maybe the death is slow. Maybe it’s not the death of the body, but the death of the heart, the inner person, the death of innocence, the death of purity. It could lead to the death of a relationship.
As I seek to apply this wisdom to our world today, I can’t help but see the comparisons to this story and pornography. Instead of physically going to the bad part of town, one needs simply to click on a website. In fact, there are websites that have ads that pop up on your browser trying to lure you in. Pornography starts off by looking enticing but ends in death. It kills purity, it kills relationships. It kills marriages. Sometimes it kills one’s soul.
Sexual seduction comes in many forms and faces. How many women are pulled into literary pornography (ever hear of 50 Shades of Gray?- that’s literary porn for women). Seduction is everywhere and it’s impossible to avoid. Even on Facebook, I get friend requests at least once a week from young women that I know I don’t know and they are usually wearing something seductive. They are trying to pull me in. In fact, there’s a thing now known as catfishing, which seeks to pull people in and then take advantage of them.
I once met a patient in the hospital who had been catfished. He was in his 60’s and had lost tens of thousands of dollars, his marriage, his home and all his friends and had attempted to commit suicide. Yet, he was still convinced that this poor little young woman from Russia was going to come and marry him if he could just send her a few thousand dollars more (than the thousands he had already sent her).
Proverbs 7:21 warns: “With persuasive words, she led him astray, she seduced him with her smooth talk.” Of course, this is targeted at young men. But young women can also be targets of predators, and often are. You are never too young or too old to be the target of a predator. Seducers can be male or female, young or old. They lure you in with whatever bait they think you will go for. They look for areas where you are vulnerable.
When the Bible illustrates evil and temptation from the devil (or the serpent in Genesis) it operates in the same way. The serpent uses the forbidden fruit as the bait and seductive words to convince Eve (and Adam) that God is a liar and that they won’t die if they eat the fruit. In the wilderness, the devil uses Jesus’ hunger and his ability to transform stones into bread as the bait.
What can we do to protect ourselves from such seductions from evil? Jesus used God’s word. Every time he was tempted he used the truth of God’s word to counter the temptation. This is where Eve missed the mark. She didn’t have a foundation of trusting God’s word to help her resist the seductive words of the tempter. Jesus did, and it made all the difference. Proverbs 7 begins here: “My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you.” When we embed the word of God deep into our hearts by reading it, studying it, meditating upon it, and living it out, we create for ourselves a foundation of truth upon which we build our lives and it will protect us in times of temptation.
Just remember, worms are delicious, but make sure they don’t have a hook hidden inside before you bite.
~ Jeff Fletcher