Mother and daughter talking

Counting the Costs

Singer, songwriter Fiona Apple writes piercing words about relationships. While I do not endorse all she writes/does, her song, “Paper Bag,” carries a profound lesson.

In her song, she discusses a man who holds a powerful attraction for her. At the outset, she is exhilarated because she thinks the dove of hope is about to alight upon her. Then, she realizes it was only a paper bag and the jarring image awakens her from her stupor.

She carries the image into her analysis of the doomed relationship. Her lover was a man who had failed to grow up and was not ready for an adult relationship. She knew she had to leave before she was in too far.

Fiona writes, “Hunger hurts, but starving works, when it costs too much to love.” These words are stunning when we carefully meditate upon their implications.

Millions are in toxic dating relationships that are almost certainly doomed to fail. Sadly, in many cases, they will marry and complete the nightmare that will end in tragedy, spiritually and emotionally.

Millions more have already wed and their misery is very real. Their pain and heartaches take too many years from their lives. The price is too high.

Emotions often blind the human heart and we fail to see our situation for what it is. We must step out of our emotions and listen to the rational. We must be fearless as we see the bigger picture.

Loved ones try to open our eyes to the dangers we face but our emotions close our ears. We refuse to listen and we lash out at our loved ones until we hit bottom and see what we had refused to see.

In our Christian walks, these words are equally profound.

We place our pleasure ahead of our souls and turn against God. We satisfy our hunger for sin when we would be better off starving. Solomon writes, “Better is a dry morsel with quietness, Than a house full of feasting with strife” (Proverbs 17:1, NKJV)

We must see the bigger picture and say no to our appetites when they place us at odds with God.

Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44), places lies strategically ahead of us where we are most vulnerable (1 John 2:15-16). We pick them up, place them in our pockets, they creep into our hearts and lead us away from Christ (Luke 15:11-32).

Sin is too dangerous. The price is too steep. “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:14-15).There is too much at stake.

An eternity in hell is never worth the momentary pleasure of Satan’s lies. Yet, we persevere each day, paying Satan’s impossible price. We accept sin’s call while the voice of God’s Word speaks rationally and clearly through Scripture.

God calls us to a higher calling (Romans 12:1-2). Our sinful appetites yearn to be satisfied. However, Satan’s food is poison (1 Peter 5:8). We may hunger for it but starving is better. The food of the Lord is far more satisfying (John 6:26-35).

Jesus says, I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10) “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46). The challenges are serious but the consequences are eternal. Now, we have to choose. Be wise.

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Richard lives in Florence, Alabama and is married to Deirdre. They have three daughters. He is an avid reader, devoted writer and lover of history and research. He is the author of "The Most Important Question" and is working on more books.

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