A compulsion is a strong, oftentimes irresistible impulse to perform some particular action often contrary to what you know to be right or justified. If you don't struggle with any compulsive behaviors EVER in your life, you probably are not normal. Compulsive behaviors are part of all of humanity - some to higher degrees than others. There are those who go to the excess - known as obsessive compulsive. Then there are just those of us who know things are not right for us to be doing, but we just go ahead and do them anyway, despite the inward struggle occurring which is attempting to warn us not to pursue that particular course of action. Compulsions are "fed" or "denied" - by our response to their "pulling" effect. When we deny them, we are starving them and hoping they will fade away, giving us no more problems later on. When we feed them, we often don't know how hard it will be to resist the urge the next time. Learning how to control our compulsions is important if we are to live freely, animated, and motivated by God's Spirit.
My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence? (Galations 5:16-18 MSG)
Over the past week, I have been spending some time helping us get to know the way our body, soul, and spirit interact together. It is my hope that we begin to see not everything the body senses is worthy of us acting upon, and that not every emotion can be trusted to steer us straight. We need the balancing influence of the spirit connected to God's Spirit. The compulsions of selfishness we all deal with are part of our human nature - our body and soul being the driving forces behind these compulsions. When we correctly identify the driving force behind our compulsions, we might just find the key to overcoming their "pull".
To live freely requires us being animated by God's Spirit - motivated by something other than our own compulsions. Truthfully, a compulsion is a motivator - it drives us forward and leads us into action. We want our actions to be God-directed, not self-directed. We accomplish this by tuning into the Spirit of God in the realm of our spirit - allowing the decision to act to be filtered through our spirit prior to acting. Since God's Spirit communes with ours, we have an excellent means of "filtering out" the compulsive actions if we remember to use this filter!
Since we all struggle with compulsions - irrational and irresistible desires - we can also learn from how others have faced those same tendencies and overcome the need to pursue them. This is the importance of "community" or "family" which scripture speaks so much about. It is not a formula which works, it is learning how others have found strength in the Word, learned how to apply that Word to their circumstances, etc. As we share with each other, we learn from the experiences of others. My daughter loves to shop - finding bargains here and there. She also loves to give and bless others through her giving. She had to learn that not every "bargain" is a necessary purchase. When she partnered with her husband, a more "balanced" shopper and a "saver", she learned there were priorities to how their monies were spent. They struck a balance because one was learning from the other - one learned to save, the other learned the beauty of giving. A perfect balance.
God desires us to live within the freedom we have been given - we just need to learn to use the "tools" we are given which help us to remain free and living totally animated by his Spirit. We need communion with him, good relationships with others who will hold us accountable, and the time to really get to know the Word. When we have these tools in hand, we are ready to filter things our body and soul has to deal with through our spirit - allowing the Spirit of God to give us the thumbs up or down as to the action we should take. Just sayin!