Chocolates on the kitchen counter, heart shaped waffles with whip cream at breakfast, cookies in Young Women’s and a pink lollipop bouquet shyly placed in my hands from an especially sweet girl; ripe red strawberries dipped in Belgian chocolate, a heart shaped cake, pinky red m&ms— I’ve been off sugar for three weeks and ably resisted them all. And then we rolled out the thick buttery sugar cookies- it’s my own recipe perfected after years of practice- a soft, not too sweet dough baked until just done and frosted with generous swirls of vanilla-almond buttercream frosting.
I selected a perfectly shaped and baked and frosted cookie, breaking off just a corner to inhale the sweet scent. Minutes later the entire cookie was gone.
A few months ago, NPR ran a story (that I simply can’t locate) on temptation resistance. I found it fascinating. Temptation, the researchers asserted, is like a muscle. The more enticements that come my way, the more weary my resistance becomes. A temptation will grow more and more intense until a person gives in to enticement or removes themself from the situation. The butterdream cookie wouldn’t have been quite as alluring to me in the morning, but became almost irresistible after a long day of sugar seduction.
Researchers also learned that rest– a nap, a walk, a good book–alleviates temptation. Nearly everyone succumbs to weaknesses when they have a lot on their mind.
Now let’s face it, indulging in an outrageously delicious cookie isn’t a sin, but I have other impulses I need to control. My experience and the NPR story supports the concept that Christ withstood greater temptations than any mortal being— He did not succumb. As a follower of Christ, I want to be more like Him.
Cigarettes, french fries, losing my temper– those have no appeal to me. But gossip, sugar, swearing– oh! I have to guard myself daily.
My husband finds it amusing that a prissy little girl like me(and I am prissy) can’t watch a movie with curse words without going around biting my tongue the next day. I’ve learned that I simply can’t read books or watch movies with foul language– it creeps into my mind and vocabulary. So I remove myself from the situation as often as possible.
Gossip is a similar siren song. I am far too apt to believe the latest dirt and pass it along. I’ve had to remove myself from certain friendships because of this tendency.
Recognizing our own weaknesses can be empowering; some frailties are harmless while others must be curtailed. I find that I have much greater compassion for other’s failings when I aware of my own infirmities. We each have our own little box of demons; mine might look harmless to you, but unchecked, they are lethal to my soul.
How do you resist temptation? What is easy for you that is hard for others and vice versa? Have you completely overcome a temptation? How can recognizing temptation guard us against sin?