Fishing season has arrived, nestled in the backdrop of flowering dogwoods, sweet spring air and pleasant temperatures. I’m eager to jump onboard my kayak and start catching some bass. My son caught 15 of these beautiful fish just this past Saturday. There’s nothing quite like having an invisible, living force attached to a zig-zagging line, testing the fibers of the rod and the person holding it, one of the best feelings in the world.
Probably my favorite lure of all times is the plastic worm. I’ll usually rig it Texas Style and then drag it ever so slowly across the lake bottom, feeling for that telltale tap or thump. Bass either love them or hate them, but they aggressively pursue this counterfeit little worm. It may be the action, the color, the shape, the scent, but something draws them to it. What are these fish thinking?
So what are we thinking? Like the largemouth bass, we encounter things that lure us to dangerous places or disastrous consequences. Come to think about it, these “lures” also, sparkle, wiggle, make a buzz, smell good, and invade our spaces. Of course, I’m talking about temptation. Like the largemouth we get fixated on a desire and rush in rather than running away. Christians still harbor vulnerable spots: lust, anger, gluttony, greed, pride, jealousy, you name it. There may be areas where we’ve found victories, but we remain susceptible to their enticing forces. So what can we do? Here are a few ideas or suggestions I’ve found helpful to guard against temptation:
- Satan wants to get our minds focused on one thing. I try to stop, back away, and get the big picture. I think about the short and long term consequences. How will giving into the temptation affect my family, my testimony and my relationship with God? Will giving into the temptation harden my heart against the things of God?
- What is the wise thing to do? Notice I didn’t ask, “is it permissible” or “is it amoral?” Doing the wise thing keeps me on the best course (Ephesians 5:15)
- Practice the presence of God. He’s real, He’s sitting beside me, He’s inside me. God’s the real deal–not an idea (Genesis 28:16).
- Trust Him. Have faith in His indwelling Spirit. There’s nothing too great for God’s Spirit to overcome. Just yield (1 John 4:4, James 4:7,8).
- Flee temptation. We should take a stand against Satan, but God tells us to hide from or escape tempting situations. So be accountable to other believers in your life, build effective barriers, and don’t place yourself anywhere near temptation’s boundary line. (2 Timothy 2:22)
- Don’t think that you can ever be “cured” of temptation. We may enjoy periods of “remission” but the cancer of the soul has not entirely gone away (Galatians 5: 17).
- Replace bad thoughts with noble ones. Substitution or replacement are always powerful options (1 Thessalonians 4:8).
- Meditate on scripture and ask God to heal your mind and lead your next step. (Psalm 119: 11)
How about you? What effective ways have you discovered to help overcome temptation?