Friday, June 19, 2009

Resisting Temptation - Bad?

A few thoughts on temptation from the book, The Purpose Driven life, by Rick Warren:

Refocus your attention on something else. It may surprise you to know that nowhere in the Bible are we told to "resist temptation." We are told to "resist the devil," but that is very different, as I'll explain later. Instead, we are advised to refocus our attention because resisting a thought doesn't work. It only intensifies focus on the wrong thing and strengthens its allure.

Every time you block a thought out of your mind, you drive it deeper into your memory. By resisting it, you actually reinforce it. This is especially true with temptation. You don't defeat temptation by fighting the feeling of it. The more you fight a feeling, the more it consumes and controls you. You strengthen it every time you think about it.

Since temptation always begins with a thought, the quickest way to neutralize its allure is to turn your attention to something else. Don't fight the thought, just change the channel of your mind and get interested in another idea. This is the first step in defeating temptation. . .
. . .that is why repeating "I must stop eating too much . . . or stop smoking . . . or stop lusting" is a self defeating strategy. It keeps you focused on what you don't want. It's like announcing, "I'm never going to do what my mom did." You are setting yourself up to repeat it.

Most diets don't work because they keep you thinking about food all the time, guaranteeing that you'll be hungry. in the same way, a speaker who keeps repeating to herself, "Don't be nervous!" sets herself up to be nervous! Instead she should focus on anything except her feelings - on God, on the importance of her speech, or on the needs of those listening.

Temptation begins by capturing your attention. What gets your attention arouses your emotions. Then your emotions activate your behavior, and you act on what you felt. The more you focus on "I don't want to do this," the stronger it draws you into its web.

Ignoring a temptation is far more effective than fighting it. Once your mind is on something else, the temptation loses its power. So when temptation calls you on the phone, don't argue with it, just hang up!
Sometimes this means physically leaving a tempting situation. This is one time it is OK to run away. get up and turn of the television set. Walk away from a group that is gossiping. Leave the theater in the middle of the movie. To avoid being stung, stay away from the bees. Do whatever is necessary to turn your attention to something else.

This is of course not all Warren has to say on temptation, but I thought his basic idea that we should stop trying to resist temptation is kind of radical. I wouldn't say this is the only thing we need to do to defeat temptation, and Warren wouldn't either, but I think that sometimes we (and when I say we I mean "I") forget it. What do you think, do you agree with Warren that we should stop wasting our time fighting temptation and instead just ignore it, changing our thoughts to other things? Or is too simplistic? I like to think of it as a major weapon in our arsenal, but there are other weapons as well.

1 comment:

Chad said...

ill give rick warren a amen. we got to stop giving so much power to the devil by speaking his lies over ourselfs, and others. resist the devil, run from temptation.