“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV (emphasis mine)
Our little puppy, Tipper, has been growing with great gusto and training tremendously this summer. She has learned not to chase children, not to chase cats, and not to chase other dogs. She has matured so much!
As she sat in the luscious cool of the day in the shady grass, eyes on our youngest daughter’s every move, a distraction appeared in the next yard. Our eight-year-old neighbor appeared with his soccer ball.
Tipper immediately caught sight of the small athlete. Her eyes riveted on his ball, repeatedly ripping through the grass toward his goal.
She stood up.
“No Tipper, stay.”
She ever-so-slowly lowered herself back down. She had heard my voice. She had obeyed my instructions. But, her eyes stayed fixed on that ball.
Her eyes followed each and every move.
Then, that ball missed its intended target and shot into our yard.
In one speedy blur, Tipper leapt to action, catching that rogue ball and stopping it, guarding it with her belly holding it fast to the ground.
As I retrieved the ball for our shy neighbor, I told Tipper, “Silly dog! You should never stare at temptation! Fix your eyes somewhere else, anywhere else!”
Her sweet response was to lovingly lick my leg and wag her stubby tail.
Whether we literally stare at temptation with our eyes or with our mind’s eye as we repeatedly revisit an idea or a vision, our focus should not linger on anything identified as a personal temptation.
How to do that?
Focus thoughts, sights, and words elsewhere. If a thought occurs that prompts a temptation, don’t linger there, entertaining it. Move your mind to something else.
If certain magazines or websites elicit a struggle, don’t look at them. Don’t let it in your house, your car, your office. Don’t go there.
If ungodly words are a go-to in certain situations, determine what prompts that response. Then, decide on a better response. You can’t always prevent people from making you angry, but you can decide on how to react. Does sitting in rush-hour traffic set the scene for foul language? Blast the Christian radio. It just might change your frame of mind.
What are these suggestions really pointing us to?
Fixing our eyes on Jesus. He is the author and perfector of our faith. It’s through him that we have faith, and through him we better practice that faith. Christian means “Christ-like.” When we study his word, ask for his help, and employ his traits which are gifts of the Holy Spirit, we will become more Christ-like. And we will learn not to stare at temptation. Even when it’s so captivating.
When confronted with temptation, where do I tend to gaze?
What temptations catch me off guard?
What ‘go-to’ response can I decided before and then employ at that scenario?
Dear Father God, please help me to fix my eyes on You. Thank You for Your great love, You know what I need before I ask and You are waiting to give it to me so I might overcome any scenario, day in and day out. Amen.