Too often some religious words have been used in such a way that they are either now devoid of meaning - or they have become so cluttered with misunderstanding that they mean little to us now. Such is the word, "backslider" in our religious vocabulary. We've heard the term screamed shrilly at us - or have attributed the word to back woods preachers who use it to scare the faithful to the altar when revival services are in town. This is a loss for the church because this word is used as a warning to us - not with a piercing scream of a preacher trying to make a point - but with the gentle yet strong urgings of wisdom who only desires to prevent us from walking in a foolish way that will cost us far more than we are willing to pay in the end.
The backslider in heart - is a phrase that speaks of someone who has turned away. The word actually comes from the Hebrew word, "sug" which means to turn away or to turn ones back. The idea with this word is that someone is turning from an accepted or expected path or commitment. They are crossing a boundary line, and in the process are being disloyal in the process. Here we also get the idea that this is not just an isolated decision - but something that has been chosen enough times to where a heart has been set in a direction. The backslider in heart is the one whose heart commitment to the Lord has turned badly in the wrong direction. He has decided to walk away from his commitment to the Lord - and now his decisions are betraying his faith.
What is fascinating about this proverb is that we read that the backslider in heart, "will have his fill of his own ways. The idea here is that this person who is turning from the Lord and from His Word - is going to be filled to the point of misery with his own ways. He is not going to be happy with this development. He will be miserable. The proverb states that the good man will be satisfied with his ways. The good, godly man will find the lifestyle and the direction of his life and choices are very satisfying. But the backslider in heart is going to be full. But the fullness that he will have will be a fullness of regret, a fullness of problems, and a fullness that is very unpleasant.
Imagine with me a meal that you've eaten. But what has happened at this meal is that you have eaten to the point of being miserable. As you sit and are now sickened by the mere thought of food - you groan over being full of your own over eating. That is truly a horrible feeling when it happens. What the proverb here is trying to describe is a lifestyle that is overflowing with regretable decisions that were not in accord with the Scriptures. The consequences that begin building up are awful. This man looks at them and thinks how he is full of the consequences of his own ways. What proverbs says elsewhere is that he groans at his latter end. When everything comes to roost - he finds that he is groaning under years of bad decisions - just wishing that he had done something different. For this man there is little more than regret over the choices he has made. These were choices that glorified his flesh and did not honor God. Filled to the full with these choices and the myriad of horrific consequences they have brought on - he can only sigh and steel himself for the tidal wave of problems and difficulty he is about to face.
Think about this . . . that when you turn from God you are setting a course for misery. You may not see it right away - but know that your backsliding from God and from His Word are going to have a very steep price to pay. You may decieve yourself that such a price will never come, but the truth is that as you make choice after choice to ignore and even defy God - you are storing up misery for yourself. That misery IS coming. And when it comes all you will be able to do is groan under the weight of it. Filled with your own ways - you will finally learn that satisfaction comes as we embrace God and embrace the good He desires for us in our lives.