(11) I have hidden your word in my heart,
so that I might not sin against you. — Psalm 119:11
Last week I heard a speaker on the radio use this passage. His suggestion was that you find scriptures that relate to particular temptations that you face, and learn them well, perhaps even memorize them, and then when facing the temptation, call those scriptures back to mind.
I’m not opposed to his idea. It’s a good one for facing temptation. But I wonder why we focus so much on the negative ways of dealing with temptation. We ask how to fight it, how to resist it, and in some cases how to avoid it. All of those things are necessary at one time or another.
But there’s a better idea. How about occupying our lives so positively that temptation can’t find any space to work with?
In our churches and in our lives we often tend to deal with problems negatively. Problems with sexual sins? Resist! Resist! Resist! And you must resist. But the best foundation from which to resist sexual sins of all varieties is one of healthy relationships, both with the opposite sex and with others of one’s own sex. There are some purely sexual temptations, but the devil’s helper in those cases is feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, abandonment, and many other problems that result from poor relationships. Don’t forget to resist, but you’ll do so much better if your life is filled with healthy relationships.
Healthy relationships and a healthy self-image contribute to resisting temptation in the area of anger, resentment, and unforgiveness. Often our anger is fueled by the fact that we can’t really do anything about it. Sometimes we just have a habit of anger, and so get angry even when we can manage a situation. I work at times with some folks who, by nature of their position always have the upper hand, yet they will often get angry instead of taking the appropriate action.
And what is resentment except an acknowledgment to ourselves that we can’t really do anything effective, so we’re just going to hang out and stew about the problem. Finding a healthy way to relate to the people who tempt you to resentment is going to build your own mental and physical health.
So how does this relate to Psalm 119? Where are you going to find a healthy self-image? I’d suggest that you will do so in and through Jesus Christ, and through God’s word. That includes the written word, the Bible, but it also includes the creative word.
God’s creative word tells you that God made you and then declared you good (Genesis 1:26-31). It says that God sees you as important and cares about you (Psalm 8). God’s creation will give you an insight into God’s mind. Yes, by looking at yourself, even, you can learn something about God.
Once you learn how important you are in God’s view, and how you are redeemed by Jesus and made into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), then you know how to spend your timeâ€”building up God’s creation and building those positive relationships.
Instead of talking and thinking about how bad other people are (Muslims, Pagans, non-believers, whoever), talk about the wonderful things God has done for you. Instead of talking and thinking about all the things God has forbidden you as a sexual being, concentrate on the positive things God has made possible.
Spend your time in God’s word, learning about God’s will, and carrying out God’s plans, and you’ll find that you have many less temptations to resist. The ones you do have to resist will be easier to handle as well!