Monday, May 24, 2010

Like Shopping on an Empty Stomach

Have you ever gone grocery shopping on an empty stomach? I have, and it's not a good thing. Suddenly, junk foods which might otherwise hold no appeal to me have a strange allure. Pre-prepared items which I normally ignore train their tractor beam on me, and I am powerless to resist. There is no shortage of temptations in the grocery store, and when I am hungry my will power is at its weakest.

What is the solution? Should I just grit my teeth, furrow my brow, and keep walking through the junk food aisle, determined to do my darnedest? Do I just need to pull myself up by my own bootstraps, strengthen my will power, and do the right thing? Thankfully, no. My will power is not much to write home about, but there is a much easier way to avoid the power of temptation. Eating. If I've eaten a good meal at home before I go, I can cruise the aisles of the grocery store with ease, impervious to the temptations around me. When my stomach is contentedly full of good food, the temptations of bad food are weak.

Living a faithful Christian life is the same way. Normal everyday life is full of temptations. Temptations to lust, temptations to greed, temptations to anger, discontentment, irritability, meanness, pride, you name it. And let's face it, some of these temptations are strong. They catch me in their tractor beam and try to pull me in. They promise happiness, joy, fulfillment, meaning and significance in life. Everything will just be some much better, and my life so much richer if I just give in a little bit. Or so they want me to believe.

How do I resist such temptations? Again, my will power is nothing special. I could just try to work up within myself an extra batch of resolve, really hunker down, and hope to do better next time. But as we all know, this will never work. I need stronger medicine.

The key is to eat a good spiritual meal before going out and facing the world. If I can get my heart to be happy in God, content with his goodness, thankful for the grace of Christ, and moved by his undeserved love, then my heart will not be looking to be filled elsewhere. The power over temptation is to starve it at the source. If my heart is empty, and my soul hungry for meaning, then I am susceptible to all sorts of temptations and false promises. But when my heart is full, and my soul satisfied with the love of Christ, then the empty promises are more easily ignored.

The key is not to rely on my own will power, that would be like purposefully shopping on an empty stomach and trying not to come home with any junk food. The key is to know the grace of Christ in the gospel, and to put it to good use!

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