Friday, December 1, 2017

God's Naughty List Always Comes With a Way Out

"Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: 'The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.'  We should not commit sexual immorality as some of them did - and in one day twenty three thousand of them died.  We should not test Christ as some of them did - and were killed by snakes.  And do not grumble, as some of them did - and were killed by the destroying angel.
These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.  So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!  No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."  (1Corinthians 10:7-13)

While reading the apostle Paul's warnings to the Corinthian church one morning and then inspired by Santa's "Naughty List" after watching "Elf" one evening, it hit me.  This is a Pauline Naughty List! Yes, I'm kinda corny.  But if you will indulge me, Paul draws from Israel's history to teach the church to not be idolator’s, commit sexual immorality,  test Christ, or grumble.  The three areas on the list that are standing out to me this season are idolatry, sexual temptation, and grumbling.  

It's ironic that this time of year is the easiest time to get caught up in the idolatry of anything but Jesus.   He gives us a way out of idolatry – simply flee.  Run people!  Ha.  Wish I could run.  But sometimes that would be a good choice when I have my sights set on that thing that is supposed to satiate my appetite.  There is one blessing that comes from being on anti-seizure medication these dulls the appetite.  I don't crave much of anything.  Lest you idolize THAT, it comes at too steep a price, I'm afraid.  What do you need to run away from?  Once something is on the pedestal of idolatry it's too late for a quick fix, it will be harder to pry it off.  You have to catch it before it climbs up there.  Consider what you put on the pedestal of idolatry each morning.  You can usually tell by looking at your calendar, your bank account, or by asking your spouse.  

Sexual Temptation
When I taught graduate students studying to be Marriage and Family Therapists I scanned the room, looking them in the eyes and repeated this statement:  Don’t have sex with your clients.  They squirmed and laughed a bit but I was serious and they knew it.  Being alone in a counseling room can be isolating.  Being alone in a pastor’s office can be isolating.  Heck, being alone anywhere with someone from the opposite sex can be isolating and you need to be aware of temptation.  It saddens me when people rationalize that boundaries are not necessary and then are caught later realizing they were.  Prevention is cheaper than damage so many ways.  No one is exempt from temptation.  No one.  The headlines have always had examples of this.  Our current news cycle is certainly no exception.

The reason why I became trained in the field of sexual addiction treatment 11 years ago is because clergy are my "people group" that I am called to help.  I noticed it was a struggle for many ministry couples and as a result their families and churches were affected.  The ripple effect of relational trauma after betrayal is deep, and is farther reaching if the right treatment plan is not given or followed. People waste time and money when bandaids are given.  I wanted to be equipped with tools to provide a plan of hope where a restored and redeemed marriage is possible.   I had no idea that the process would include me (I'll write another blog on our transformation from Shame and Martyr to Shane and Marty later.  Still Corny, I know.).  

It’s one thing to process your negative emotions in a counseling session that is confidential or with a confidant but remember the grumbling that the Israelites participated in?  If we only keep our focus on frustration in the present or resentments of the past, as opposed to the promises the Lord has for us, we miss out.  We stay stuck.  I think that is what they missed, and what I miss too when I have grumbly days. 

Finally, the jewel that shined so brightly in the end of this passage for me was this…”Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.”  (1Cor. 11:1) In all of these warnings, our daily relationship with Jesus is key.  Following His example, following His word, listening to His voice of instruction and love.  We can't go wrong when we follow Him.  We can go very wrong when we don't.  Join with me today in following on the path of freedom that shines with the warmth of the Son. If you need help getting off the road of idolatry, temptation, or grumbling, reach out to safe people who know how to help.  Let them help you get on the better path.  

To read more about the origins of sexual addiction and the way out, check out my husband's excellent blog here:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Most Viewed Posts