(Photo: Dan Delzell)
The television commercial makes it sound like quite a payday: up to $10,000 in a day! Sound tempting? Well, you probably won't see the interest rate in tiny print that flashes on the screen for less than a second. Nor will you be aware that this company charges interests rates ranging from 139.22% to 194.70%. Imagine that, up to 200% interest, and all that money could be yours today. Good luck paying off that loan!
A similar thing happens with temptation and sin. It flashes before us with its appeal and its promises. But the fine print is easy to miss. Adam and Eve missed it, and the "interest rate" in their case was a whopper. King David came to find out how high the interest rate is on sin. Judas had 30 pieces of silver flash before his eyes, and he took the deal. But it cost him so much more than he ever anticipated.
That is the way temptation works. The fine print is barely recognizable when the offer is made. There is a deliberate attempt to keep your eyes on the thing that will supposedly make your dreams come true. Like children in a candy store, our eyes get pretty big when we are gazing upon the offers of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Anything that is not God's will for our life can become that thing which appears at first to offer a tremendous payday, that is, until we start to experience the interest rate that sin carries with it.
Think about those times in your life when you have given into temptation and it has come back to bite you. Was it worth it?
What makes temptation appealing is the perceived payday, not the hidden interest charges. Who wants to think about that when your mind is racing with fantasies of the jackpot? Some give themselves over to sensuality, others give into that grudge which feels so justified, and some unbelievers "go for the jackpot" by enjoying their dream of living life without God and without the cross of Jesus Christ. In each case, human beings find these activities satisfying because they feed the desires of our flesh, that is, of our sinful nature.
"Get up to $10,000 in a day!" It flashes across the television screen and aims to get you to make an impulsive decision. What images are flashing across the screen of your mind today which are doing something similar? What desires are pulling at you to make impulsive decisions which you would later regret? The flesh within us drives us to seek a payday at the expense of our soul. The Holy Spirit gently leads believers in the path of obedience, peace and joy.
Is your spirit restless today as a result of the exorbitant interest charges on sin? All of us are sinners and we are all prone to "go for the payday" rather than to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is a marvelous Savior and friend. He forgives us when we trust in His death as the payment for our sin, and He gives us plenty of reasons to say "no" to the flesh and "yes" to His will for our life.
One of the best ways to guard our hearts and minds against temptation is to read the Bible and to meditate on the Scriptures throughout the day. God's Word is "the sword of the Spirit," (Eph. 6:17) and we desperately need His weapon and His defense in our battle with sin. What other defense do we have in our struggle against sin and against the "advertisements" that appeal to our flesh? You may think, "But I am a Christian and I have advanced above that stuff." Think again. You are right in the midst of it, everyday, just like every other believer.
We are all susceptible to being swayed by the offers of the flesh, especially if we allow those "commercials" to constantly run in our mind. This is why it is so critical that we "change the channel" and fill our minds with the truth of God's Word. There is no doubt that the advertisements of the flesh are powerful, but God has given us something more powerful. He has given us a relationship with Christ through faith and the Word of God which defeats temptation and sin. On our own, things would be hopeless. With the Lord, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Phil. 4:13)
There may be some images or ideas flashing across the screen of your heart and mind today that seem appealing, and yet are outside of God's will for your life. Don't take the bait. We've all done it, but today is a new day and we are smarter today than we were yesterday, right? You have surely heard this definition of insanity: "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to get a different result." It kind of describes all of us in one way or another I suppose.
The smartest thing any of us could do is to have a close relationship with Jesus Christ. What does that do for you? Well, it brings love in your heart, joy in your soul, peace in your mind, purpose in your life and a calm in your spirit as you interact with those around you. Now those are some things, my friend, which money can't buy, and which come with no interest charges but only rich dividends in your relationship with God and with others.
You can "get up to $10,000 in a day," or you can "get all of God's peace that you need." Which path sounds to you like the wise road to travel, and which offer are you going to take today? The one from God or the ones from those who care nothing about your financial health or your spiritual health? There are no regrets whenever we take God at His Word and whenever we go the way He wants us to go.