This post may seem obvious, but some times we have to be reminded of the basics. One of those basics for me is anticipating temptation.
We all know, when we are in our right minds and thinking clearly, that certain people, places and things will set off our temptation. Unfortunately, too often, we just blindly walk into situations where we feel caught off guard and there’s a struggle that ensues. But if we were careful to anticipate the situations, we would have our guard up and be ready for the fight. In fact, usually when we anticipate it, there isn’t even a fight.
So what are the anticipatory signs you need to be on the lookout for?
We need to break this down internally and externally.
Internally – what goes on inside me that leads to temptation?
- Mind – thought patterns that are negative, self defeating, critical and pessmistic
- Heart – emotions like fear, anger, loneliness, disappointment, the 3 I’s.
- Soul – experiencing a drought spiritually or being disconnected from the Word.
Externally – what goes on outside me?
- What restaurants typically have scandalously dressed women at lunchtime?
- What billboards/signs/establishments will I pass on my way to the office?
- What interactions do I know are on my calendar for today that make me feel uncomfortable?
- Am I going anywhere today that the physical location is triggering?
These are some of the things I need to anticipate in order to honor God with my life. If I am aware of them, I can made commitments and decisions ahead of time so I’m not caught off-guard. When I do, the likelihood of living with integrity goes up.
What do you need to anticipate?
Do you feel like your being swallowed up by life? Fasting can be an effective means of keeping you from being consumed by your surroundings. Daniel’one of the leading Jewish young men taken into captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar’undertook several disciplines in order to maintain his faith and identity. His decision to fast was one of the most visible ways by which he avoided being fully absorbed into that culture.
Daniel did something in particular that you might find helpful. He frequently practiced partial fasts in which he abstained from certain items but not from food altogether. A partial fast is a limitation of food or drink but not a complete abstention from them. A good way to develop the discipline of partial fasting is to begin with a fast from lunch one day to lunch the next. You can choose to give up soda or certain types of food you’d normally eat during this time. Instead of eating, take time to pray and read your Bible.
A normal fast can often be more disruptive to daily life’and that’s a good thing at times. But at other times you may sense the need to support your prayers or spiritual activities with fasting, but feel the need to sustain your food intake. In such times, you may give up certain items’and these don’t have to be limited to food. How about fasting from video games, Internet surfing, or television?
You face unlimited distractions that keep you from looking at yourself and your circumstances, don’t you? You use these things’ like work, sports, food, sex, or stuff’to try and meet legitimate needs in unhealthy ways. In other words, when you crave something you know isn’t good for you, you do so because you’re using it as a substitute for something you legitimately need but that you find has been difficult to acquire or achieve.
For example, men with an insatiable desire for status or possessions often have an unmet need for love but are afraid to take the risks that intimate relationships require. Instead they invest their time, money, and energy in inanimate objects’things that cannot surprise, disappoint, or reject them. Other men continually demand perfection in others. More often than not, they’re struggling with their own feelings of inferiority’and ultimately, with their own need to be forgiven.
Any intense ‘need’ or desire for a particular activity or relationship is a warning flag that you need to look at it more carefully. You may not know you’re using that activity or relationship as a substitute, but if the thought of losing it makes you fearful, you need to explore the reason why.
My point, men, is this: You have legitimate needs. And an important part of seeing and living the truth is finding out what those true needs really are and realizing that your heart won’t be satisfied by counterfeit substitutes.