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?
The ‘rules’ practiced in today’s business world aren’t always the same as God’s rules, are they? Are you getting caught up in the game, trying to get as much as you can’are you tempted to cheat others or not give them their fair share? God will hold his men’you and I’accountable for this. We must take responsibility if we’ve sinned this way.
Take for example a man in the Bible named Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus’s hunger for riches drove him to take more than his fair share while he was collecting taxes from the Jews for the Roman government. He was hated by his own people as an extortioner and a traitor. But when Jesus reached out to him he changed dramatically. The book of Luke says, ‘Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘I will give half of my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have overcharged people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!’ Jesus responded, ‘Salvation has come to his home today” (Luke 19:8-9).
When you honestly reflect on your life, you should be careful to consider whether you have taken more than your fair share in your dealings’business or personal. If so, it’s your responsibility to face the greed, the fear, the anger, and the pride that led you to behave dishonestly. Like Zacchaeus, true spiritual growth will be evidenced in practical ways. I hope you’ll take those courageous steps today.
Remember the Tom Hanks movie Castaway? It’s about a FedEx executive who’s plane crashes into the Pacific Ocean as he’s on his way to unclog a shipping artery in some remote part of the world. Chuck Noland’played by Hanks’survives the crash. He’s miraculously washed ashore on to a deserted Pacific island where he spends five years in utter isolation’losing touch with his loved ones and forever changing the course of his life.
For many men, this sounds uncomfortably familiar. That’s because the lack of communication and connection among men has created’metaphorically speaking’a culture of spiritual castaways.
The number one dilemma facing Christian men today is isolation. Today, more than perhaps any other time in history, American men feel emotionally and relationally isolated. Sure, most have friends and lead busy lives. But as a general condition, men aren’t connected to one another in any deep and meaningful way.
Yet every man feels, deep down, a longing to be known, loved, and valued as a friend by other men. Men want and need close friends, but our inability to be vulnerable with each other creates our’isolation.’ Men who wouldn’t think twice about risking in business or sports have enormous difficulty taking risks to expose what’s inside their souls.
Men, today I challenge you to recognize your need to be valued by other men, and seek an opportunity to connect with a friend on a deeper level.