The other day my husband and I went out to dinner, and before we were seated in the restaurant we decided to have a beer.
When you belly up to the bar, your view is hundreds of bottles of hard alcohol.
When I look at that array of liquor, I see temptation that could very easily change my life. Now, many people don’t see Mescal or Wild Turkey or Captain Morgan’s as a temptation. My husband for example, has no interest. But, for many of us, just talking about it elevates our serotonin levels.
Temptation is an interesting subject worthy of more consideration in our day of abundant choices– beyond any generation so far.
You have heard the parable of the two dogs:
“An Eskimo fisherman came to town every Saturday afternoon. He always brought his two dogs with him. One was white and the other was black. He had taught them to fight on command. Every Saturday afternoon in the town square the people would gather and these two dogs would fight and the fisherman would take bets. On one Saturday, the black dog would win; another Saturday the white dog would win – but the fisherman always won! His friends began to ask him how he did it. He said, “I starve one and feed the other. The one I feed always wins because he is stronger.”
The point to be made is that with our inner battles, the one we feed is always stronger. The one we starve will be weaker.
Which assumes there always has to be a choice. I don’t agree with the religion that tells you to “empty your mind.” Emptying the mind is a) counterintuitive b) impossible and c) not helpful! Attempting to empty your mind when there are temptations knocking at the door… no vehemently, relentlessly banging at the door! does you no good. We have to have an alternate choice that makes us a better person.
I know without a doubt that I cannot choose hard alcohol. If I feed that wolf, the consequences will be grave. I can bind up this temptation easily by remember my desire to feel: Strong! Attractive! Free! Bold! Intelligent! Light! Notice, I have taken the time to process this. If you are battling a temptation, and you have not taken the time to fall in love with the Better Path, now is the time.
I want to use the example of alcohol because I think it speaks to a lot of people. People know what alcoholism and drug abuse do.
But we can talk about exercise in the same way. I’ve chosen to exercise Hard and Heavy 5 days a week because the consequences of not, to me, are grave. The temptation to forgo a day of movement is often tempting, but too many of those, and I lose the fight.
Every day I want to Get Real about my inner battles. My pursuit is not perfection, but excellence. Every day I want to Choose the Better Path. I want to Choose to feed the part of me that builds others up, and glorifies God.
Maybe you want the same thing.