I could sense her anticipation as she inched her pint-sized frame toward the open door. What excitement lay beyond? Dark and mysterious, the shadowy edges called to her. It was the perfect place to explore. Her pace hastened. She could hold back no longer. But just on the cusp of having her curiosity satisfied, she was stopped in her tracks.

Quickly whisking her away, I squeezed the roly-poly ball of joy about to open the cupboard door where dirty diapers, raw meat wrappers, jagged-edged cans, and a myriad of other dangers lurked in the garbage can. With a “That’s yucky, Honey. You don’t want that,” I redirected her to a safer, more appropriate place to play.

Watching my fourth baby explore her world is much the same as it was with my other three. Baby gyms, board books, toys that sing, flash, and dance are theirs in abundance, but it seems they’re always inching toward what’s off limits. I give them a ball; they grab a pencil. I set them on a playmat; they crawl to the bookshelf. I put them in the high chair; they climb on the counter. Even as I type this, she is sitting on my lap with an old keyboard identical to the one I am typing on. It takes approximately 20 seconds for her to start reaching for the one I’m using. In another second, it’s the mouse and then my coffee cup.  What she desperately whined for two minutes ago no longer satisfies, and she is on to the next thing.

With each child, the story is the same. I offer what’s good, safe, and right, and they pass it over for something they think is better.  

Scripture offers example after example of people who passed over the good, safe, and right that God had put in front of them for something they thought was better.  

King David had a thriving kingdom—riches, wives, children, intimacy with God—but he wanted Bathsheba.  

The Israelites had the promise of prosperity, victory, and the presence of God, but they wanted idols. 

Esau had an incredible inheritance, but he wanted a bowl of soup.  

Adam and Eve had perfection, unimaginable beauty, harmony with one another, and God’s intimate, face-to-face friendship; they wanted a piece of fruit.

What is it about human nature that draws us toward what we can’t have?  I don’t know if I’ll ever understand it, but I’ve discovered a few ways to help combat this tendency in our lives.

  1. Recognize.  Recognizing our tendency to be drawn toward the forbidden can help us be on guard against it. First Corinthians 16:13 says, “Be on your guard.”
  2. Be Grateful.  Being grateful for the good, safe, and right things God has placed in our lives cultivates appreciation for what we do have.  First Thessalonians 5:18 explains, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
  3. Meditate on what’s right.  What we think about becomes magnified in our lives. Constantly thinking about what we can’t have increases our desire for it. Focusing on what we do have magnifies our appreciation for the place we find ourselves, creating contentment. We can use Phillipians 4:8 as a guide to where we should be focusing our thoughts: “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things.”
  4. Reframe. Reframe the thing that looks so tempting as what it truly is: a trap to bind us, make us suffer, and ultimately destroy us. Second Corinthians 11:14 tells us that Satan masquerades as an angel of light. I always thought this meant that if I ever saw him, he’d be a beautifully disguised angel, until I realized his masquerade is making hideous sin look delicious. That thing we want looks like it’ll make us feel good and be the answer to our problems, when it is actually well-disguised trash intended for our demise.
  5. Remember. Remember the consequences faced by people in scripture who thought they knew better than God. King David’s son died, the Israelites were exiled, Esau forfeited his inheritance and Adam and Eve had to leave paradise, toiling in their work and experiencing heartbreak. God will always forgive us when we repent, but some consequences are so devastating that they last a lifetime. God will grieve with us over what’s been lost, but while sin can be removed, its effects often remain.
  6. Memorize Scripture. Jesus used the Word of God as his weapon against the enemy.  Memorizing, praying, and meditating on scripture will transform our lives from the inside out. Finding scriptures that specifically apply to our situations and memorizing those will help us when temptations arise.

Our struggle against fleshly desires will never be completely eradicated this side of heaven, but as we practice the principles above, our spirits will be strengthened so we can live an overcoming life of joy.

Second Corinthians 4:17-18 explains, “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Don’t pass over the good, safe, and right that God has blessed you with, only to find yourself in a trap of the enemy. Don’t give in, dear sister. Even if you stumble and fall, get up, press on, and you will reap a harvest with eternal benefits.

**All scripture references taken from the New International Version of the Bible

Written by Erica Horyza