What is that baseline commitment that if you meet it, whether or not your day went well, whether or not you performed as a zero or a hero, you can hit the sack with peace?
For me, that is honoring God by being authentic, transparent and speaking truth. If I can function today living out who God has called me to be I can rest. If I tell the truth, both of my life and the life of Jesus, I can rest. If I can be vulnerable and avoid masks and pretenses that portray I can handle life by my own strength, then I can rest knowing I’ve done all I can do.
If we’ll chase after that bottom line commitment today, with all our strength and energy, it’s unlikely we’ll look at porn, go to a strip club, have an(other) affair or be tangled up in the barbed wire of our own egos.
Just a quick heads-up that this is the time of year when many guys crash and burn, right along with their favorite team. Crazy as it sounds, when the football season ends there is depression for some guys. And with that depression can come the urge to medicate with pornography, strip clubs or affairs.
Here in Denver we haven’t hit that point just yet (sorry Steeler fans). But I can tell you there is a noticeable difference in the feel of this city, and specifically the countenance of many men, after the season ends. Regardless of whether it went well or not, it’s almost like a lull sets in. There’s nothing to look forward to. No plans for Sunday afternoon. Nothing to take up the space in the cubicle conversations. Nothing to be fanatical about. There can be a restlessness and a sadness that permeates life.
If this is you, I have a couple suggestions. First, own it. Acknowledge and own that you’re affected by the end of your team’s season. Own it if a lull feels like its setting in. Second, decide now that it won’t rip you off. There is too much life to live, too much at stake in your relationships and too much joy available in Jesus to let a sports team/season send you into a tailspin. Third and finally, invest in what matters. Aim your fanaticism at your sanctification process, at deepening intimacy with your wife and kids, at being the best you possible on campus. You’ve got Monday nights, Thursday nights, Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday free now – do something with it that matters!
..but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Sometimes we’re too quick to blame our temptation on the Devil and the culture. Is it true that temptation arises from these sources? Yes, it is. However, often times our temptation originates from within. It begins when we are dragged away and enticed. What does that mean? It means our focus shifts away from what matters most and we become distracted with what fulfills the least. Many of us have reels of old footage from past porn binges, affairs, strip clubs and chat lines that we can recollect and thereby be enticed. When we engage that footage and allow ourselves to fantasize about it we are being dragged away; or to put it in context of the verse, we are dragging ourselves away. Where is that going to lead us?
We also experience temptation as a form of dealing with our emotions. Some of us have learned that emotions such as anger, insignificance, loneliness, rejection, fear, failure and disappointment can be numbed and soothed by engaging sexual thoughts. Unfortunately, it is easier to engage those thoughts and medicate rather than to deal with the emotions appropriately. It was very difficult for me to accept this truth and to learn to deal with my emotions in healthy ways. It was especially difficult to learn how to process my emotions with other people. I wanted to keep it all bottled up and to myself. I didn’t want to weigh anyone down with my junk. I wanted people to think I had it altogether; that I wasn’t needy. The truth is: we’re all needy and sometimes we have to get needy out loud.
Whether to numb feelings or to excite ourselves, we are giving birth to sin and ultimately that will give way to death. We have to take ownership for our self-temptation and be willing to engage our neediness, and surrender ourselves to God.
A couple of questions to consider:
1 – In what ways do you tempt yourself, effectively dragging yourself away to be enticed?
2 – Have you turned these things over to God and others? If not, how about telling God and others about it today.