It was D.L. Moody who said,"I have had more trouble with myself than with any other man." I would have to agree whole-heartedly with Mr. Moody - my own "self" gets the best of me without much effort at all more than any other person does and THEY are the ones who have set out to get the best of me! Time can get the best of me without much effort. People can be my worst obstacles, and they don't even know they are sometimes. Then there is this whole struggle with wanting my own way when I know perfectly well it may not be what is right or best for me. It is not so much that the "thing" was wrong as much as the "desire" behind the thing was not exactly "right on". Indeed, I can "get in my own way" more than anything else at times!
But remember this—the wrong desires that come into your life aren’t anything new and different. Many others have faced exactly the same problems before you. And no temptation irresistible. You can trust God to keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it, for he has promised this and will do what he says. He will show you how to escape temptation’s power so that you can bear up patiently against it. (I Corinthian 10:13 TLB)
Notice it doesn't say we won't have temptation, or that our own self wants or self-directed focus won't get in the way of making right choices. It says with each of these things God will "show us" how to escape that power AND to bear up patiently AGAINST it. So it is really a battle we are being instructed about here, my friends. A battle of the "self" mind or will against the desire of our heart to fulfill the will of God. Both are tremendous forces and some of us find ourselves spending way too much time struggling through instead of "doing what he says".
The thing I want us to see this morning is not so much that we struggle, but what the "nature" of the struggle really is. Look again at our passage - the struggle we face isn't "anything new or different". They are the same problems we have faced before and the same ones others face. You might say your present problem is much different than the ones you have had in the past, but deep down, at the root of the matter, all problems are really very similar - they are a battleground for the will. Whose "will" will win out? That is the real crux of the issue.
If we are to understand the problem before us, we need to stop seeing it as unique to just us. Others experience the same issues - they may not admit it readily, but they do. We all have moments of greed. We all struggle with lust on occasion - in one of its many forms. We all give into desires that only have the basis of bringing joy or satisfaction to us and no one else. Nothing we face is uniquely different. The set of circumstances that "set us up" for the opportunity or struggle may be slightly different, but the root of the issue is really the same. We ALL struggle with "self".
The sooner we recognize this, the sooner we may bring down some of our facades and begin to be more genuine with each other. I think this is the single most important need in our churches today - to be genuine. Christians are GREAT at wearing the "holiness mask" and denying their life is a mess of muck and mire. Instead of covering it up, imagine how much more we might learn from the insights of others if we'd just realize others have had similar muck and mire moments in their lives and they might have actually figured out how to move beyond them! Just saying!