Anticipating Temptation

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?

 

Lustful Looking – Woman at the Well

In the Book of John, Chapter 4 we read a story of Jesus hanging out with a Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob. Jesus, being Jesus, knows more about her than she realizes upon initial interaction. Whether by divorce or adultery, which are debated, this woman is no stranger to men. And likely also no stranger to reeling men in.

So here is Jesus, solo with this woman, in a potentially precarious situation. Let’s get down to brass tacks here – he could have flirted with her. He could have fantasized about her naked. He may have been tempted to look down her shirt when she leaned over to grab her bucket of water!

But Jesus wasn’t a lustful looker.

He was more concerned about her soul; her present life and her eternal destiny. He wasn’t interested in the flesh she wore – he was living with the perspective that his life was short, his purpose was redemption, and his call was proclaiming the love of God.

Here’s a tip to stop lustful looking – be more concerned with the soul of a female human than the flesh that soul is covered in. Focus on our greater call of reflecting God’s glory rather than being so simple and shallow as to be lulled into the temporal temptation of flesh.

The next time you’re at Starbucks waiting on your super soy, light whip mochanilla frappawhatever, I encourage you to take a bird’s eye view and see the many souls in line around you in need of a Savior, rather than the people waiting to pick up their orders. Be mindful of the brokenness on the inside, and fight the urge to objectify the body on the outside.

 

 

Leaving lustful looking behind – tip 1

Sorry for going dark for a little while there! Back at it!

Let’s deal with lustful looking. To leave it behind has a finality to it that I don’t want to misrepresent. It is an ongoing work, NOT a one-and-done change that happens. And the reason I think is because it is so much more than a temporal, physical issue. It is a heart, mind, body and soul issue. So dealing in pragmatics, I want to offer some tips I hope will be helpful.

First, you need a mantra. Sounds corny, huh? But seriously, perhaps you’ve heard this quote –

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”
― Henry Ford

We’ll end up believing what we tell ourselves. This isn’t about pop-psychology positive self talk. It’s about the core beliefs we have about ourselves. And when it comes to lustful looking, some of us have these core beliefs:

  • If I don’t look I’ll miss out on something.
  • They might look back and that will feel electric/powerful/significant/etc.
  • I am entitled to look.
  • I’m not hurting anyone by looking.
  • I have to look in order to meet someone. [for singles]

Unfortunately, much like processes running in the background on our computers, these core beliefs are operating in the background of our hearts and minds. Without even realizing it, we’re already at a disadvantage in the war for sexual integrity.

Think about this for a moment from the perspective of a professional athlete. What would happen if everyday, multiple times a day, the team’s star receiver repeated to himself, “when the ball comes to me, I drop it every time. When the ball comes to me, I drop it every time”.  Sounds asinine doesn’t it? Yet that’s how many of us operate. “When an attractive woman/man crosses my path, I look her up and down.” When an attractive woman/man crosses my path, I look her up and down.” Side note: isn’t it crazy how we’ll celebrate and sensationalize the disciplines of an elite athlete, but we’ll call the disciplines of a spiritual athlete hokey or ridiculous?

So how do we change this? One way is by having a mantra. We reprogram the processes running in the background. My mantra is, “there’s nothing I need, guaranteed”. What that means to me is, I haven’t a single need that God hasn’t already appropriated meeting through Shelley, other men, or Himself, albeit maybe not immediately.

Practically speaking, I walk into Starbucks and an attractive woman is in line, “nothing I need, guaranteed.” Urge to double-take, “nothing I need, guaranteed.” Seriously. And guess what; over time, I’ve come to believe it. My core belief today is not that I’m missing out if I don’t. Instead that core belief is that no one on the planet can satisfy the longings of my heart more than Shelley, men and God. So why would I even have to look at another woman? It’s a foregone conclusion.

I am a fan of you having a mantra. One that you repeat every day, multiple times a day, so that you start to believe it.

I’d love to hear what your mantra is if you have one, or when you come up with one.

More tips to come!