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Last year Jordan Speith become one of the youngest players to ever win The Master’s, setting all kinds of records along the way to his victory. That was inspiring enough for my son to use his birthday money (his birthday fell on the final day of the Masters last year) to go buy himself a junior golf club set. Since I’ve been trying to learn the game the last couple of years we’ve enjoyed hitting balls together and figuring this impossible game out together. (I have grown my skills to the point that I can almost say I’m terrible at golf but not quite yet… Come Lord Jesus!)
My baseball background hasn’t done me many favors as I try to establish a correct, consistent golf swing but one common denominator has been the ‘follow through’. In golf, like in baseball, it’s not just about making contact with the ball, it’s about swinging all the way through it. The real power and effect of the swing is realized on the back end. I was explaining that to my son the other day and the Lord reminded me of a principle he shared with me years ago. I’ll call it ‘carrying it through…’
Often, when we are faced with temptations and sinful enticements, we have a tendency to try and run and hide from them. We pretend as if we aren’t enticed. We pray and resist and do our best to occupy our minds with something else. I’m certainly not suggesting those responses are not helpful or even necessary at times. But, something I started doing years ago to help me combat such assaults was to mentally carry the temptation all the way through the activity, the consequences, the confessions, the fear, the anxiety and the ultimate dissatisfaction with the end result of that temptation. It didn’t matter what it was… the temptation to lie, to steal, to cheat on my wife or on my taxes, I simply would ‘carry the thought all the way through’. As horrible or sinful as that may sound, what it allows me to do is see the full, panoramic view of where this temptation eventually leads.
Temptation is always ‘front loaded’. On the front end, it may lead to a lot of excitement, pleasure, financial gain, promotion and/or public celebration. However, that’s not the full picture, that’s only the façade. On the back side of that decision there is shame, guilt, fear, emptiness, anxiety, cover-ups, loneliness and the death of dreams. We all know what that feels like. Thank God He is merciful and forgives when we confess and repent.
Sometimes we don’t have enough will power to ‘just say no’. So I’m saying, swing all the way through the temptation in your mind. Consider the consequences after the initial excitement. Look around and remind yourself that what is done is secret will eventually be shouted from the mountain tops (Luke 12). You’re not the exception and even if you were and got away with everything, you’d be a shell of a person, always fearing being found out for ‘who you really are’. That is not living. That’s existing…. sort of.
Being tempted isn’t a sin. Jesus was tempted. What we do with that temptation can lead us to sin and bondage. Call the enemy’s bluff. Don’t just make contact with the initial thought. Swing through it and as you ‘carry it through’ you’ll see it for what it truly is: a trap. The true effectiveness of the swing is seen on the back end. Carry it through and ask the Lord to carry you through the challenge. He’s faithful and able.
’Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.’ –James 1:12-15 NIV
’He (Moses) chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.’ –Hebrews 11:25 NIV
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