Sunday, June 9, 2019

Not one more cookie!

The resolution to avoid an evil is seldom framed till the evil is so far advanced as to make avoidance impossible. (Thomas Hardy) Ponder Hardy's thoughts for just a moment and you will understand why willpower alone seldom keeps us from eating the candy bar within our fridge! Now, the one still at the grocer's counter is a little harder to actually enjoy, is it not? The nearer the 'evil', the harder it is to avoid - it is within our path and we find things harder to resist when they are in our path!

So give yourselves humbly to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

My BFF was sharing about her father's desire to lose a little weight, so he has 'divested' himself of some of the goodies he had 'stockpiled' in the house. The box of chocolates found a new home far away. The rice krispy treats made someone else very happy. The cookies blessed another's family. I imagine the purpose of the 'divestiture' is to ensure the temptation for the 'evil' of those sweets is further away than the cupboard! As long as they remained, there was difficulty avoiding them. When they were gone, there could still exist a 'yearning', but the ability to satisfy the yearning was much harder.

Sometimes the hardest thing for us to remember is that temptation is not all that powerful when we remove the thing from our midst! If it becomes harder and harder for us to ever 'acquire' whatever it is we are tempted with, it is less likely we will 'give into' that temptation. If our 'temptation' is able to be fulfilled by what we eat, we stop bringing that object into our home. If our 'temptation' is acquired and fed through what we view on the TV, then we disconnect from the cable company's feed. If it is indulged through the associations we keep, we begin to change those associations.

The opposite of evil is good - most would agree. Today, many have framed evil in such a way as to believe there are 'degrees of evil' - some not so bad and others at the opposite end of the spectrum. The problem with this reasoning is that what we 'tolerate' as a 'less offensive' evil today will become the norm tomorrow. The evil we once avoided becomes a 'tolerable' or even 'acceptable' evil. It has been brought close enough to begin to tempt us to accept it and believe it is 'okay'. This is shaky ground, my friends, for evil of all types is to be resisted (avoided at all cost).

To resist - give yourselves to God in humility - admitting freely the pull toward the temptation that we feel. God isn't caught off-guard by our admittance of the 'pull'. In fact, he knows temptation exists and he has provided a pathway of escape, but we have to seek his assist to walk that path! Just sayin!

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