Genesis 33:18-20 Then Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan Aram; and he pitched his tent before the city. And he bought the parcel of land, where he had pitched his tent, from the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred pieces of money. Then he erected an altar there and called it El Elohe Israel.
Jacob has established his camp outside the Canaanite city of Shechem, just close enough go inside, but not dwell inside the city. Don’t set up camp next to temptation. An old fable might help to illustrate …
A Dog had been taught to take his master’s dinner to him every day. As he smelled the good things in the basket, he was sorely tempted to taste them, but he resisted the temptation and continued day after day to carry the basket faithfully. One day all the dogs in the neighborhood followed him with longing eyes and greedy jaws, and tried to steal the dinner from the basket. At first the faithful dog tried to run away from them, but they pressed him so close that at last he stopped to argue with them. This was what the thieves desired, and they soon ridiculed him to that extent that he said: ”Very well, I will divide with you,” and he seized the best piece of chicken in the basket, and left the rest for the others to enjoy.
If you place yourself at the doorstep of temptation, you will eventually succumb to it’s appeal. That’s what Jacob has done by placing his family next to a foreign city of Shechem.
So many Christians have grown comfortable living next to darkness; keeping temptation just in the corner of their eye. Then they feign surprise when they find themselves inside the city walls. But Jacob didn’t just establish his family next to the city, he gave the area a name. He named that place El Elohe Israel, or God, the God of Israel.
It doesn’t matter what we call a place, if we shouldn’t be there, we shouldn’t be there. Too many Christians camp out next to temptation, then try to give the place a “spiritual” name in hopes that nobody will notice. The bar as a mission field is a good example. You can call a bar a mission field, but if you have a problem with alcohol, it’s a bar and you will become a patron.
Don’t compromise. Don’t create excuses to compromise. Be aware of your surroundings and don’t place yourself in situations where you can stumble.
Ephesians 5:15-16 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
If you struggle with pornography, don’t hang out online alone and don’t go to certain areas of town … you’re not “doing research” to figure out how to best minister there … you’re flirting with temptation.
If you struggle with alcohol, the neighborhood bar is not your mission field.