Sunday, March 23, 2008

Preventing What Seems Irresistible

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17

I need to lose weight. Ask my doctor. She has made it her personal crusade to get me back down to a healthy weight. Her goal is not to make me beautiful. It is to keep me from having a heart attack. I am no stranger to the necessity of losing weight. It has been a constant struggle for me for my entire adult life. Apparently I have an excellent metabolism. Not one calorie wasted. My fat storage capability is a virtual steel vault. Sigh.

It is not a case of ignorance. I have given enough money to Weight Watchers over the years to look like Paris Hilton. I know how to diet. Eat less, exercise more. My problem is willpower. I absolutely love food. Anytime I deny myself food, it is a fierce inner battle. One thing I have found is that allowing myself to feel too deprived is a sure ticket to failure. This is key to long term success for me.

My hardest time of the day is the hour before dinner. I am hungry, and in my weakest state I am expected to stand in the kitchen, the dream room of all overeaters, and prepare dinner. Without snitching. Well, forget it. It can’t be done. So I have come up with a strategy. I have a little snack with a hot cup of tea just before preparing dinner. The satisfaction of a “full” feeling keeps me from temptation as I cook. Most of the time, anyway.

James wrote to his readers about temptation in the first chapter of his epistle. He had just encouraged them about the trials in their lives. Then in verse 13, he clarifies the idea of trials a little more. “Let no one say when he is tempted, I am being tempted by God, for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” Both trial and temptation are translated from the Greek word peirasmos. When James used peirasmos the first time in verse 2, he was writing about outward circumstances. Now in verse 13, James wrote about temptation which comes not so much from outer circumstances but from within ourselves. He clarifies: “Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lusts.”

Don’t ever confuse your inner desire to sin as coming from the Lord. James tells us this is impossible. While outward things such as persecution or other trying circumstances come along, we can look at these as an opportunity from the Lord to persevere in obedience. Yet they are not what tempts us to sin. That desire comes from within ourselves.

So how do we keep ourselves from obeying the inner call to sin? James tells us in 1:17: “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” If we want to avoid sin, we must fill our minds with the only thing that truly satisfies. We need to spend time in God’s Word and absorb the truths within its pages. Our priority must be to love Him with all of our mind, heart, and strength. When we are walking with Him, both in heart and action, we are filled to satisfaction. Suddenly the sin which was so tempting doesn’t look so irresistible.

Conversely, if we allow ourselves to become “hungry” or to feel “deprived,” suddenly that sin looks too good to resist. Our good intentions only last so long. (For me, on a good week, about three days.) Yet if we take the time for some preventative measures, by filling ourselves with the “good things” God continually offers in His outstretched hands, the appetite for sin will diminish. Just like a cup of tea and a few crackers before dinner.

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