It started popping up in my news feed about a year ago…advertisements for a women’s clothing store. Their styles were so appealing….trendy, but modest…pretty colors….things I couldn’t find in other stores…and their prices were really, really good. Every day, my social media feed would show me more of their advertisements. After I clicked through to their site, I got even more ads….AND COUPONS (the way to my heart!).
Eventually, I decided to place an order and give them a try.
Right away, I noticed that the quality of their items fit their prices…these pieces would not last long. The fit was ok, but nothing ever looked quite as good as it did in their advertisements. Sadly, most of what I ordered would end up being returned, and I’d have to pay the $5.95 return shipping fee. (I’d excuse it by saying, “At least I kept something.”)
This became a pattern with this store. I’m sad to say I fell for it more than once: Buy three items and save 900 zillion percent (ok, that’s an exaggeration) off these beautiful clothes that won’t make you feel like a woman who's almost fifty. (Ok, they didn’t say that part, but it is what I love about their styles.)
Several times I fell for it, only once again spending $5.95 returning things that were not what they looked like in the advertisement. The problem was their advertisements kept popping up in my social media feed. Once they had my email address, they sent me email after email creating even more temptation.
Finally, I decided to get to the source of the problem.
The only way I knew to resist temptation was to stop seeing the advertisements. So I unsubscribed from their emails. I “unfriended,” “unfollowed,” and “snoozed” all of their ads on social media. With a few keystrokes, I did whatever it took to alleviate the temptation from my life.
A few days ago, I thought about how I don’t see their ads anymore, and I really don’t miss it.
It reminded me of Jesus’ words regarding temptation: If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matthew 5:29-30)
Okay, granted, Jesus probably wasn’t talking about my shopping issues when He said these words and I know it isn't a sin to buy cute clothes (although I was wasting money paying to ship them back). However, the same principle applies.
When we are struggling to overcome temptation—whether it be a small temptation or a major, life-changing sin or addiction, there comes the point when we have to stop playing with it and decide to eliminate the issue at its root.
While Jesus wasn’t saying that we should literally practice self-mutilation, the principle He was teaching was that we need to do whatever it takes to eliminate sin from our lives.
Often this means taking practical steps to eliminate temptation.
For some people, this means having an accountability partner. For others, it means eliminating cable or placing their computers in places where there is no privacy.
Some may need to go to counseling to create a plan to overcome their issues.
Other people need to eliminate friendships or stop going places that create temptation. For instance, when I was growing up, I knew a man who couldn’t go to restaurants that served alcohol because the temptation was too strong. For me, that’s not an issue, and I can eat where I want, but for him, it was more important to stay sober than enjoy certain restaurants. He was willing to do whatever it took to avoid his temptation. What will you do to overcome yours?
The truth is that as followers of Christ, we need to do everything we can to overcome sin and temptation in our lives.
No earthy sacrifice is too great to ensure that we spend eternity with Jesus in Heaven.
As followers of Christ, it is our responsibility to do all we can to overcome sin in our lives…even if that means “unfollowing,” “unfriending,” and “blocking” temptation.
While each of us has unique challenges, the principle is the same: we can’t play around with sin. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we need to be eliminating it from our lives.
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry."