Focus: Pulling away from temptation
Mark 14:38 (NKJV) Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
It’s interesting how God allows things to happen for the purpose of giving us a spiritual lesson. He uses ordinary circumstances and things that seem ‘crazy’ to help us understand an important truth.
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Right now, I’m sitting in an office chair with my feet pulled up off the floor. It is a slightly awkward way to be sitting while I’m typing—but as I’ve been at my desk for the past couple of hours preparing to write, I’ve felt a stinging sensation on my feet four or five times. The first couple of times, I pulled my bare feet out from under my desk and looked at my toes, where I felt the ‘needle prick’. I didn’t see anything, so I went back to searching for scriptures on my computer. A little later, I felt it again! I quickly pushed my chair back and saw an ant on my foot. I brushed it away and squashed it. I went and got some spray cleaning liquid and paper towels. I did a thorough cleaning of the area under the desk. I expected to see some crumbs or something that had fallen on the floor. I did find a couple more ants—but no food of any kind.
Thinking I had solved the problem, I sat down and went back to work. It wasn’t too long and sure enough—another ant bite! “What is going on?” I thought. I got down on my hands and knees and looked for ants. Nothing in sight. “Just a fluke”, I thought…and went back to work. A few seconds later—you guessed it, I got bit again.
Now, I was getting really annoyed. I was trying to prepare my heart and mind to write about the importance of guarding our minds…and I could hardly think about anything but ants. How was I going to get anything done if I kept getting bit?
That’s when I decided to pull my feet up off the floor. Well, I can tell you that I’m not very comfortable at the moment. I’ve had to change positions several times. From all of the times I’ve been bit—I keep thinking that another one is on me, so I have to take a look and then type a few more words. I think what is happening at this point–is that the places where I’ve been bit ‘smart’ every once in a while—creating the sensation that I’m being bit again, when really—it’s just the poison from a previous bite that I’m feeling.
Okay, you say. What does all this stuff about ant bites have to do with Mark 14:38 and guarding our minds? Well, as I see it—God has used the ants to show us something. I didn’t put my feet under my desk expecting to have ants bite me. That has never happened to me before—and why should it? If I had known ants were under there, I wouldn’t have willingly offered my feet for them to bite. By the same token—we don’t always see temptation coming. Even when it does show itself, we don’t always take it seriously. We can sometimes just brush it off and keep going along. Temptation will keep ‘picking at you’. When I say temptation, I’m not just talking about the obvious kinds of temptation. I am also referring to the subtle situations that come up when we are fighting discouragement. Those little things that prick your mind and get you thinking in the wrong direction.
Those ant bites interrupted my plans and thoughts. That’s what temptation will do, too. It will show up as an unexpected little ‘flash’—to grab your mind and take you completely away from the right path you were on.
I had to be willing to pull my feet up off the floor and get them away from the ants. I had to also be willing to endure some inconvenience in order to finish what I had started writing…just like you have to pull yourself away from temptation and thoughts that are going in the wrong direction. I’m actually quite uncomfortable at the moment and I’m finding that it’s not easy to type when you don’t have your feet on the floor. Sometimes, making the effort to pull away from temptation won’t be easy and it might not be very ‘graceful’. You might even look a little strange to other people who have become ‘desensitized’ to certain themes and influences. They may not understand your standards and you might have to humble yourself in their eyes to do what you know you have to do.
You can be sure I will find the source of the ants and get rid of the problem. I don’t want to keep getting bit! But, it took a while for me to realize there was a real problem. I had to get bit several times before I finally faced the facts. In an effort to reduce and eliminate sources of temptation—we need to be willing to admit that an influence is wrong and has to be rooted out and done away with. It takes work and sometimes we just don’t want to face the fact that something is a real problem. But if we don’t do anything about the source of our temptation—we’re just going to keep getting bit.
Declaration: I will find new strength by pulling away from the source of what is taking me off the track God wants me on. I will take bold steps to live an honorable life before Him—even if it is awkward and may not look ‘cool’ to those around me.
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