The battle against not doing what we often want to do but know is not the best course of action is a real thing. Some would call that the battle of the spirit over the flesh. We know what we should do, but we struggle and are tempted to do what we ought not to do.
If we simply try and suppress and push aside a temptation that is within us it will eventually wear us out. However a helpful key to not slipping into what we know is not beneficial for our lives is to have a clear vision of the person we want to become. To know what kind of person we want to be and what sort of life we want to lead and then be able to articulate and write it down and list the reasons why we’ll choose to take a particular course of action, refrain from certain behaviours and determine to develop various areas of our lives. Without a why and knowing the reasons to walk away from temptation, the energy to suppress those desires because exhausting and more often than not, futile.
For me to control my natural desires to lash out at those who threaten and annoy me or to give into fear or some other weakness I have to have a reason; a vision for who I want to be, so that the force of that desire and vision is more powerful in my life than a moment of weakness and temptation to give in to the gratification gained by the immediate thrill.
John Ortberg in his book “The me I want to be” said, “Temptation promises as much as we want. It promises freedom, but it makes us a slave. There is always a hook. Real freedom is not the external freedom to gratify every appetite; it is the internal freedom not to be enslaved by our appetites, to have a place to stand so that we are not mastered by them.”
I’ve made a covenant or promise to God and myself that I will seek to become all that He says I am, whilst also endeavouring not to bring his name into disrepute by my words or behaviour. It’s why I choose to remain silent when I really might to give people a piece of my mind, why I ignore or look the other way when someone of the opposite sex notices me, why I seek to be honest and true to my calling and continually seek to grow as a person.
A clear vision and commitment to become the best version of ourselves will help keep us from wandering off track and motivates us to continually be developing and allowing God to shape our characters and lives, even when that hurts or is frustrating.
Today I encourage you to take some time to think carefully about the person you want to become – the best version of what that person looks like. What are your deepest values, dreams and goals; who and what sort of man or woman do you want to become? Then write down what that means and looks like with regard to the choices, places and people you associate with, the decisions you make and the life you lead both in public and private. God wants us to be the best version of ourselves and if we allow His hand to guide and direct our lives He will strengthen and help us even in our weakest moments to walk away from temptation and to keep the vision before us.
Who are you becoming today?
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” ( Joshua 1:9)
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like ignorant people, but like wise people. Make good use of every opportunity you have, because these are evil days. (Ephesians 5:15-16)
Prayer: Lord please empower me to become the best version of myself – the me I want to be. That you would help me to walk away from temptation and that my life would become so full of all that I am becoming that I don’t even miss the pursuits, attitudes and behaviours that I may have to forgo to become the best version of me. In Jesus Name Amen.