This story may be apocryphal, but it is said that when Alexander the Great, who created an empire that stretched from his home in Macedonia to India, arrived in Persia in 334BC he ordered his ships burned.
As his few thousand troops were facing a few hundred thousand of the enemy, one of his commanders asked, “How will we get home?”
The Great Alexander tersely replied, “We’ll use their ships.”
If you burn your ships, that means there is no turning back. No retreat. No withdrawal. Only marching forward.
We use the expression, “burn your bridges” to speak of this concept. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, American author Mark Twain was the first to use this phrase in print in 1892. I have read the Roman Generals employed the practice of burning bridges they crossed as they moved forward conquering new territories.
Success motivation speakers often employ this imagery to “burn your bridges.” The idea is that failure is not an option. Defeat is not a consideration. Losing is not in your vocabulary.
This morning while studying Romans 13 this thought came to my mind as I read this section.
Besides this, you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Rom 13:11-14)
The call for Christians is to be awake. Alert. And aware. We live in a sinful world. One that is constantly tempting us with alluring images on television, movies, media, and even road sign billboards A drive North on I-75 out of Florida attests to the shameful reality.
We are “children of light.” Our behavior ought to reflect the character of Christ. When we were baptized, we “put on Christ.” Not in a casual manner like someone who wears a jacket on an occasional cool morning. But, it speaks to a relationship we constantly and continually sustain with Him. Daily.
We must burn our bridges when it comes to our previous lifestyle. Some immoral actions and ungodly attitudes are specified in this text. Other passages contain longer lists. But the point is the things of a sinful, darkened world ought to be in our past. Burn your bridges.
The expression, “make no provision for the flesh” is noteworthy in this regard. The word literally means “forethought” This carries the notion of thinking ahead. Making plans. Providing opportunities.
Think about the ways in which provision for the flesh are encouraged today
Today teens are told they need to be equipped with birth control devices in the event they engage in premarital sexual relationships.
Watching movies and frequenting places of entertainment that appeal to the lust of the flesh has the potential to lead to other sins. This is especially true today with the choices of in home entertainment, where all kinds of sensuality and “adult” shows provide an opportunity for fulfilling the lusts of the flesh.
Our choices of friends often determine our direction and affect the decisions we make. My son, Kenny, shared with me yesterday that when he was in his early 20’s he had some worldly friends that he had to leave behind because they were a bad influence on him.
Both young and old alike need to avoid parties and places where drunkenness and illicit behavior is the norm.
Everything from our choice of clothing, where we vacation, to the very professions we choose, have the potential to “make provision for the flesh.” So, the Christian must be prudent. Careful. And wise in his daily decisions.
It is no less important to realize that unrighteous attitudes are just as sinful as ungodly behavior. Make no provision to let envy, jealousy, and bickering creep into your thinking.
When it comes to the world and its carnal thinking and lustful living, let’s simply burn our bridges.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman