READ: Matthew 5:27-30
- It’s reported that the Reformer, Martin Luther (d.1546) said, “You can’t stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can stop him from building a nest in your hair.” Or, as Frank Stagg said, “The New Testament does not equate temptation with sin … sin begins at the point of consent not with the temptation itself and not first in the overt act.” In other words, we can’t stop from seeing someone beautiful, but we must control what we think about after we’ve seen it.
- The 10th Commandment also comes into play in this discussion. There, Moses condemns lust (covetousness) in the same way Jesus does. In the same way Jesus deepened the “no murder” into “don’t be angry,” so He deepens the “no adultery” into “no lustful thoughts.” As our culture becomes more and more explicit and open about non-marital sexual relations, the more difficult it becomes to live faithfully toward Jesus’ teaching.
- Several non-canonical Jewish writings warn about women because they tend to produce lust. In other words, even as today, men seem to want to put the blame on women. It’s their fault that they are so beautiful. Real disciples of Jesus don’t push the blame to others; they take responsibility for their own choices. That includes the choice to not harbor lustful thoughts about someone else. This is not an exclusively male issue. This involves both men and women.
- Describe a time when you were tempted but succeeded in averting the temptation.
- What is the most successful way you have of keeping your heart pure, even when surrounded by tempting sights?
- What has been your experience relative to having others encourage you to be faithful?
PRAY: Pray for the ability to avert your eyes from temptation. Ask God to help you discipline your thoughts to prevent them from taking you places you shouldn’t go. Commit to being faithful in heart so you can be faithful in actual behavior.