“It’s actually easier to resist adultery than eating too much pie.”
That’s what I wrote in a past post. The thought sprang into my mind and it seemed contrary to what I was writing at the time. But it seemed true because very few people plan to commit adultery. Most of the time, people say after they succumb, “I didn’t see it coming. It just happened.” But the truth is, it didn’t “just happen.” They made “small” choices that polluted the “Puget Sound” (referring back to the theme of my last posts). What may have seemed like a “small” sin contributed to the succumbing of a “larger” sin. (Read my comments on “big” and “little” sins in my previous posts if you haven’t already.)
And in case you, like me, can’t ever imagine committing something as “bad” as adultery, and therefore might dismiss the application of this post, let me encourage you to apply this to whatever area you feel weak in.
For instance, if you over-eat, what preliminary steps do you take to set yourself up to over-eat? Or if you gossip, what underlying insecurities does talking about others seem to assuage? Or if you are prone to bitterness, what thought patterns of entitlement become the foundation of bitterness?
But for my example, let’s look at adultery.
Many years ago, I was a part of a group’s meetings that Larry wasn’t able to attend very often because of work. A man attended whose wife’s work schedule also prevented her from attending. He was nice to me and in fact, seemed very nice to me. (I know you can see where this is going, but hang in there.) In fact, whenever I arrived, he would conclude his conversation with others and hustle over to greet me with a big smile. After this happened several times, I looked forward to going to those meetings more than ever. His reaction made me feel special and important. Even though Larry and I were getting along well, this little “perk” of attentiveness warmed my heart.
As time went along and I looked forward to the weekly meetings more and more, I felt uncomfortable as little warning bells went off in my spirit. But hey, we weren’t doing anything wrong and nothing inappropriate had even been mentioned. Most likely it was just my own imagination that made it seem like something significant. If I enjoyed these warm feelings, what was the harm?
Then my friend from the meeting called me one evening. We chatted but I couldn’t really tell if there was a point to his call. Larry was at work and the warning bells became louder. I concluded the conversation and knew I had begun to seek the attention that only my husband should provide. I’d been ignoring the Holy Spirit’s grieved heart and chosen to be blinded by my neediness.
But I repented and acknowledged the dangerous slope. It was scary but I told Larry what was going on in my heart. He was concerned and affirmed his unconditional love. At the meetings, I communicated distance by making sure I was always talking to others and by not being so friendly. He stopped seeking me out at the meetings. Of course, I could have been wrong in my interpretation, but regardless, I was responsible for my receptive heart. The pollution of neediness was in my “Puget Sound” more than I knew and I’m so grateful that the Holy Spirit empowered me to resist pouring in more lies that were steps toward calamity.
Could it be that “big” sins are actually easier to resist because most of the time they involve several steps? We hope the progression will be halted because we’ll come to our senses during that time.
But “little” sins seem like they’re more in the moment. For instance, I’m out to dinner and talking with friends. Someone says the restaurant has yummy pies and before I know it, the waiter is there waiting for my decision whether to have a slice too. And isn’t everyone else having some? Maybe I’ve been wanting to seek the Lord about how much sugar to have, but as everyone waits for my decision, my desire takes over. The immediacy of the moment throws me. Wisdom would have advised me to think about it beforehand but I didn’t anticipate the opportunity.
I have noticed one particular step down on the slippery slope in my battle against sugar that occurs. I set myself up for failure by “promising” myself a “treat.” Then later when the opportunity comes, I’ll get the treat even though I’m not hungry for it. But I’d promised myself and I keep my promises!!!!!
In that example, there were several steps.
How about you? As you think of “big” sins and “little” sins, what insights do you gain from thinking about which is easier to fall prey to? And what “steps” down that slippery slope set you up for failure or obedience? I can understand it would be too revealing to share a comment but I hope you’ll reflect on these things and see how the Lord wants to work. (But if you’d like to comment, even anonymously, please do so. It would help others).
In the final analysis, sin is sin and every sin prevents us from drawing close to the Lord. What drops of pollution or purity are you dropping into the stream that leads to your spiritual Puget Sound?