Fleeing Temptation and Pursuing Righteousness

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Flee Temptation and Pursue godlinessMy 18 month old son is obsessed with the garbage can. It stands tall in the kitchen and lures him in daily with its hidden treasures. He is fully aware, however, that the garbage can is for throwing away trash and nothing else. Despite this knowledge, multiple times a day, he succumbs to the temptation and goes treasure hunting in the garbage can.

My response is usually the same: “No Thomas, we do not play in the garbage can. Put that back in the garbage can.” Pause and wait for obedience. “Thank you. Now turn around and walk away from the garbage can.” Pause and wait for obedience. Repeat as necessary.

The second part of the exchange is vitally important. If Thomas continued to stand and stare at the garbage can, he would continue to be tempted to play in it.

He must learn to turn around and walk away from the things that tempt him.<–Click to Tweet

So it is with us, too.

When I identify a temptation in my life, so often my response is to attempt to determine just how close I can get to the temptation without falling into sin. For example, many teens want to know how far is too far? Another question is how many drinks is too many? Or how often is too often? A recent example for me is with my choice of TV shows. How racy and unbiblical is too racy and unbiblical? I also struggle with social media…where is the fine line between using social media in conjunction with the blog and over use?

I believe we are asking the wrong questions. 

When we are faced with a temptation, the Bible shows us the proper two step response.

“But you, O man of God, flee these things (temptations) and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.”
1 Timothy 6:11

First, we flee.

The Greek word used in this text is pheugo meaning “to run away (literally or figuratively); by implication, to shun; by analogy, to vanish:–escape, flee (away)” (Strong’s Concordance via eBible App). When we are faced with a temptation, our instinctive response must be to turn tail and run so fast it’s as if we just vanished.

Joseph models this well. (Check out his story in Genesis 39.) When Potiphar’s wife corners Joseph by grabbing his cloak in an attempt to seduce him, he runs away so quickly his cloak is left in her hand! Talk about vanishing. He got out of there! God even promises in 1 Corinthians 10:13 to provide a way of escape when we are faced with temptation.

Instead of attempting to determine how close to the sin we can get without falling in, we must flee!

Second, we pursue. 

When we run away from temptation, we are automatically running toward something. This passage gives us the destination to run towards: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.

When making choices about our activities, the idea (we don’t get it right nearly enough) is to ask ourselves: Does this activity help me grow in righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness? If we can answer positively, then we move forward in that activity.

This changes our perspective. The focus becomes growing in Christlikeness rather than abstaining from sin. If the first approach–how close can I get without sinning–the focus is on the sin.

So we ask ourselves:

Will making out with my boyfriend help me grow in righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness?

Will drinking 3 beers help me grow in righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness?

Will watching Gray’s Anatomy help me grow in righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness? 

Will getting on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or Google Reader (again!) help me grow in righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness?

“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well being.”
1 Corinthians 10:23-24

What temptation do you need to flee? How can you/do you actively pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness?

This post is linked with thanks to:

On Your Heart
Soli Deo Gloria
Hip Homeschool Moms
Top {Ten} Tuesday
What I Learned This Week
Titus 2sdays
Teach Me Tuesday
Domestically Divine

Heart and Home Linkup

Photo Credit: EcoCommish

Comments

  1. LOVED THIS!!! (I may be behind in my reading, but I’m so glad I stopped by)

    I’ve been tempted with being controlling lately. In a lot of different ways. Controlling my 4 year old too much. Needing to control our finances. Controlling my family’s time. ugh. it’s exhausting! and He’s been showing me to run fast and hard.

    thanks for giving me the extra encouragement I needed, Mary Beth!

    • Girl, the need to control is probably in my top 3 biggest struggles. I micromanage everything. It is exhausting!! :) We weren’t created to do that! We were created to trust Him!

      In it with you Nikki!

  2. Thank you for this post. I really liked the example of Thomas needing to TURN from his temptation to go through the garbage. True-to-life examples are most often the most powerful!!

  3. I’m reading Lysa TerKeurst’s “Unglued” right now, and in it, she asks, “Are there situations or relationships that feed my insecurities?” That’s what tempts me: saying yes to things that, in and of themselves, are very good things. (Often ministries or church activities) However, these are often things God is not asking me to participate in, and they involve individuals or dynamics that feed my insecurities, and I end up very discouraged. I think it comes down to people pleasing. I feel the need to do these activities because then I will be judged as worthy/worthwhile/a good Christian. When I reorient my thinking to my worth being found in God and trusting in His plan for me, that turns me around.

  4. Thank you so much for your post Mary Beth. It is so true…if we identify the temptation but stay too close to it, we’ll continue to be tempted! It sounds simple, but it is so hard to flee…like you say, we try to test the waters and see how close we can get without getting burn…but eventually we do get burn, even if just a bit. Fleeing is the best way to handle temptation, like Joseph, when he ran away from Potiphar’s wife…he ran so fast and so quickly that he even left his robe in her hands…that’s why the best antidote against falling into temptation is a good pair of running shoes! thanks again for your post. Have a blessed day!

  5. CrazyBlessed says:

    Great post Mary Beth! :) My youngest had a love for the garbage can as well. Such a fantastic point. My favorite part is this, ”
    This changes our perspective. The focus becomes growing in Christlikeness rather than abstaining from sin. If the first approach–how close can I get without sinning–the focus is on the sin.” It seems like all of our issues always come down to this one issue…looking away from the Lord. The more I keep my eyes on Him and his amazing ways all the rest falls away. I will be sharing this with some of our teens. :)

  6. It’s so ironic that I have been mentally ranting about this for awhile now. And even verbally to my poor husband. I have to constantly remind myself that compromise in these areas serves no eternal purpose. Thank you for the extra reminder! :-)

  7. What is it with toddlers and trash cans?!? lol We are in the same battle with our daughter. She likes the turn the TV on and off as well. We say the exact same thing… “Walk away!” Such an important thing to remember in our own temptations and struggles. Thanks for the reminder!

    • I have no idea! My pediatrician actually asked at hist 18 month check up if he was “investigating waste baskets and drawers”. I responded with an emphatic YES! Apparently, it’s a milestone! haha!

    • I sort of feel better about my son after reading this because he also has a preoccupation with the trash! He loves to push the trash cans around, and he finds them wherever we go:)

  8. I always tell the kids to be gentle, loving, kind and resectful–and then when they do something I’ll ask them “which one was that? gentle, loving, kind, respectful?” Of course I need to also remind myself of these things as well. ugghhh. When my words come back to haunt me!

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