“Unless you have never been tempted, don’t pass judgment on someone who has yielded.” Author Unknown
Imagine a store opening its doors, heralded by a marketing blitz like none other. Local radio, print, and television are plastered with eye-catching graphics, catchy jingles, and promises of complete satisfaction. Television commercials feature beautiful models running hand in hand across a grassy meadow toward the store. Print ads show happy families sitting around the kitchen table, all gazing upon an unseen item with wonder and amazement. The campaign hits the internet with tear-jerking, heart-warming YouTube videos; each clip promising if you visit the store, you’ll solve all the problems in your life.
Now imagine that it’s opening day and the store’s parking lot is full of eager customers, many of whom have camped overnight to be first in line. Police direct the traffic overflow. Festive streamers and balloons obscure the store windows, adding to the carnival atmosphere as they strive to keep an air of mystery to the affair. Just what is behind the doors? The local media gather to cover the event unable to resist the temptation of an easy human interest story for the six o’clock news.
At last, the doors open with a triumphant flourish and the crowd enters in. Savvy interior design and slick videos playing on large screen TVs awe each person as soon as they pass the cheering and welcoming sales staff. As potential customers scan the aisles, they stand slack-jawed, but not in the wonder you might expect. If anything, the majority of customers appear perplexed.
Although the store is well stocked and tastefully arranged, every display cabinet and every shelf is stacked with exactly the same item, all the same color and size. After a quick inspection, most customers eventually make their exit, shaking their heads in disbelief, vowing to never return and muttering about what a waste of time and energy it all was. The sole item for sale does not entice them in any way.
Only a handful of customers head to the checkout with their baskets full to the brim. They can’t believe their good fortune! If they were to return in a few months, they’d find the store closed due to lack of sales. No matter how glitzy that store’s promotion appeared, its target audience was too narrow. With such a poor marketing strategy, the store was doomed to fail.
Unlike our imaginary foolish store owner, Satan realizes that what tempts one person will not necessarily tempt the next. If we struggle with rage, it seems that wherever we go, people cut us off in traffic. Slow pedestrians blocking the sidewalk test our patience. Chocolate cake and ice cream are offered during a coffee break at work two days into our resolve to break an addiction to sweets. Old drinking buddies we haven’t seen for years invite us to a night out on the town just as we vow to stay clean and sober. Satan will set up shop wherever he knows he can draw in both old and new customers and he’s an expert in customising his tactics to appeal to potential clientele.
We are the first to berate ourselves when we fall into the enemy’s snare, and yet we continually find ourselves duped. Self-loathing and despair deepen and we seek out old comforts once again. Resentment builds as we watch others walk past the same temptation, barely pausing before continuing along their way. Although there is no sign they can see us; never mind judge us as they pass by, we do our best to lay low. After all, why wouldn’t they judge us? We are so swift to judge others.
Although we don’t all face the same temptations, we do battle a common enemy. He is relentless in his tactics. Isn’t it ironic that we, who struggle with temptation, are so swift to place a judgment against our brothers and sisters as they struggle with temptation?
Matthew 7:1-5 (MSG) -“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”
The enemy knows that transparency, accountability to other believers, and submission to God’s direction are the keys to overcoming temptation. Satan will do everything in his power to keep us in bondage, and if he needs to add the temptations of judgmentalism and finger-pointing to his arsenal he will do so. However, thanks be to God who has given us a sure way through temptation into a place of victory!
1 Corinthians 10:13 (MSG) -“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”
For a further study on dealing with temptation, I highly recommend Rick Warren’s approach on the subject found in Day 27 and 28 of the”The Purpose Driven Life“. Rick provides practical tips to break free from chronic sins and personal temptations. God is on your side and as you reach out to trusted brothers and sisters in Christ, victory is in your grasp!
Here are some of my tips you can apply today:
- If you are feeling pulled back to old habits, addictions, and behaviour, ask yourself the HALT questions. If you answer yes to any of them, they might be the trigger points that weaken your ability to fight temptation.
A. Are you hungry? Are you neglecting a healthy diet? Are you dehydrated? When is the last time you drank water?
B. Are you angry? No matter how you might want to deny you are angry at someone or something, anger will still be seething under the surface. Deal with the source of anger privately with the Lord, then respectfully and lovingly confront that situation. Don’t stuff the anger!
C. Are you lonely? Have you been isolating yourself? Do you need to call a friend and go out for coffee? Yes, you might need to meet with a person face-to-face or over the phone and not just communicate via social media and texting. Once again, spend time with the Lord with no agenda other than friendship. Put on worship music and sit in His presence.
D. Are you tired? Are you getting enough sleep? Have you exercised lately, even if it’s just a walk down the block?
- Be honest with those around you. Your bravery in being transparent may lead others to share their struggles and you could be a catalyst for change in many.
- Repent of any secret and not-so-secret judgments of others when they lapse into destructive behaviours. Purge yourself of such thoughts. Deal with these thoughts as soon as they pop into your head! Considering yourself better than another person because you believe your ‘drug of choice’ is more socially acceptable than their choice is setting yourself up for an epic fall.
What are some socially acceptable drugs of choice that many Christians struggle with behind closed doors? Overeating, eating foods you know your body hates but your emotions crave, blaming others, gossip, mindlessly binge-watching Netflix, online and retail shopping, surfing the ‘net to numb out pain, playing video games for hours on end, yelling and screaming at your family, erotic novels, soft-porn movies, online television series that constantly show nudity and sexual scenes.
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Until Next Week
©2018 Katherine Walden
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