Today's 'thought' comes to you from Ravi Zacharias, and is found in his book: "Cries of the Heart." It has to do with the lure of illicit pleasure, the human proclivity toward immediate gratification, and the choice between giving in to the call of sinful pleasure or resisiting it.
Nothing is more sure in our world today than the fact that we will all face temptation, which will confront us in the form of choices -- day in and day out for the rest of our lives. In fact, there are people who make it their life's work to tempt you since it pays off monetarily for them if they do. And thus they will not relent. If one scheme doesn't work, they will dream up another, and another, and another, until they find a way to wear you down. Their livelihood depends on it!
This means that resisting temptation will never be a one time thing. It must become the ongoing, life-long determination of the Spirit-birthed soul. It must become the personal and habitual resolve of anyone whose goal is to live for God, and thus live a godly life. Zacharias is right -- too many people give up too easily in the fight against temptation.
Living for pleasure and immediate gratification is to be expected among people without a view toward eternity. If this life is all there is, and nothing more, then hedonism makes sense (I Cor. 15:32). Unfortunately, this same attitude is also far too common among those who claim to believe in eternity and belong to Christ. Zacharias' words, therefore, are well worth our consideration. Enjoy.
"Turning aside from immediate gratification is one of the most difficult things to do. But this is where the battle is often won or lost. In blunt terms we are called upon to be strong in our wills at resisting illicit pleasures.
As a rule, many have so surrendered their wills to a state of weakness that they have lost sight of their capacity for strength. It is far better, goes the old adage, to shun the bait than to struggle in the snare. Learn to say 'no' and to mean it -- not just for the sake of saying no, but because life has been defined for its ultimate purpose (that of living to the honor of the God who has created us). If we do not resist and instead go the easy way of succumbing, there will be a price to be paid some day.
During the Vietnam war, one of its heroes was an American soldier by the name of Lance Sijan. Today, a dormitory at the Air Force Academy in Colorado is named after him... On November 9, 1967, Sijan was flying an F-4 on his fifty-third combat mission, when, owing to a faulty fuse that triggered an explosion in his aircraft, he crashed on the border of Laos. He could have been rescued as his comrades flew near looking for him. But he lay low, and did not draw them to his spot, because the enemy was too close and he did not want his companions to risk their lives. Over the next forty-five days, he crawled three miles. He tried to survive on leaves and the bark of trees. Finally caught and put into solitary confinement, he was tortured to extract secrets. Those who could overhear what was happening ached for him deeply, but they were proud beyond measure at his unbreakable will and his determination not to betray his trust. There was nothing his tormentors could do to dent his courage and his commitment to his country. Such is the material of which true heros are made.
If it is possible for men and women to serve their country with such unyielding honor, can we not also serve the Lord our God with a will that resists fleeting and illicit pleasures? In fact, in the thirty-fifth chapter of Jeremiah God raises this very question. He asks His people to take note of the discipline some show to earthly causes. How much more ought we to be unflinching in our commitment to God Himself.
The well-known talk-show counselor Laura Schlesinger, responding to a male caller who claimed he had an addiction to a certain lifestyle, bluntly restated his problem. 'It's not an addiction problem you have,' she told him. 'It is a character problem.' None of us like to hear that, but it is the strength of our will to serve Him that reveals the character we possess."
To his last thought we might also add: It is the strength of our love for Christ that determines the degree to which we attempt to resist temptation. For if we are all too quick to give into the sin God calls us to resist, we must honestly ask ourselves if we truly love Him, since in the end, our devotion and commitment and determination to resist sin are very much tied into the degree of love we have for Christ (John 15:7-15). Loves solidifies our resolve. It heightens our determination. It determines our priorities. Love finds reasons to be faithful, while a lack of love looks for and settles for excuses not to be.
Ravi is right: If only Christians could love and honor their God, and be as determined not to betray Him, as that soldier was not to betray his friends and his country. A few such souls would be an inspration to us all.
Along the same lines I once listened to a man who spoke on this same topic of "character." I don't remember his name, or anything else he said, except this one statement: "A person's character is not defined by what he does when others are watching, but by what he does when he knows no one will ever find out."
He was right. True character is a matter of one's heart, and will, and resolve, when they know they will never be found out by any other human being. Or maybe we could say, when they know that the only audience they will ever be seen by is the ever-present audience of One.
In absolute dependence upon His grace, which for His honor will strengthen us for the battle against temptation,