Jonathan's Perspective  

Jan 11

Outsmart Temptation

Temptation is a part of everyone's life.  James states it this way, 'each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.'(Jms 1:14)  Some people may despair and say, 'Well, I can't get away from myself so I might as well not fight it.'  But there is enormous hope for overcoming temptation and bringing about a Christ-centered change in your life.  However, everyone has their weak spot, their Achilles heel.  The temptation may be as mundane as overeating or not exercising enough.  It may be as difficult as addiction to alcohol or pornography.  Here are several practical ways to be empowered to do what you really want to do, and not fall prey to temptation.

First, catch a vision for who you want to become.  Paint it in bright colors in all its glorious detail.  Make it so appealing that you yearn for it in your heart every time you turn your eyes to it.  Then write it down and put it where you will see it every day. 

Second, figure out when and where you give in, when you are most tempted to do the wrong thing which takes you away from your goal.  What time of day is it?  What are the conditions which surround that temptation?  Where does it happen most often?

Third, design a strategy based on four simple rules.  Distract.  When you are tempted, change your focus of thought.  Think about something else you like.  Engage in work.  Do anything that will distract you from the negative temptation.  Distance.  Put space between you and the temptation.  Remove yourself from the situation when you are vulnerable to giving in. Delay.  Tell yourself that you will reconsider the bad behavior in 15 minutes.  Usually the urge will pass in 5 - 10 minutes so that you can make a rational decision to do what you truly want to do.  Substitute.  When you feel the urge to do something, then take that as a queue to do something else.

Let me give you a couple examples.  You want to lose weight and be a sleek, athletic, healthy person for your children or grandchildren.  Write down that goal and put it on your mirror.  If you figure that you are tempted to eat ice cream late at night.  Distract yourself by thinking about something else.  Distance yourself by not keeping ice cream in the house.  Delay by telling yourself you will reconsider that decision in 15 minutes.  Substitute ice cream with apples, tea, or anything else you like that is healthy. 

Perhaps you want to have a joyful reunion with your family when you come home at night.  Write that down and put it on your computer at work.  The temptation is to take out your work related frustrations on your family.  The difficult time is the transition from work to home.  Distract yourself from work by thinking about what your spouse or kids were up to that day.  Think of it as preparing for your next important meeting.  Distance yourself from work.  Let the literal distance from work become a mental distance from the challenges and problems of the day.  Delay your fixation on work's problems by deciding what time you will engage those problems later that night or the next day.  Finally, substitute trying to solve work problems with trying to solve home problems.  Let the drive be a queue in order to think how you are going to encourage, help, and care for each of your family members when you get home.

At the beginning of the new year it is a perfect time to tackle a temptation.  Ask God for wisdom and understanding about what steps to take to combat the temptations you face.  Then stick with it.  God will lift you up when you fall, and help you take your next steps.  And don't forget that your brothers and sisters in Christ want to help you be your best - including me.  Give me a call if you want a sounding board, encouragement, and prayer.

Blessed to be a Blessing

Jonathan

 

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