Most of us are familiar with the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure“. This wise old saying that some say originated from Benjamin Franklin, is telling us that it’s much easier to stop something from happening before it happens than to repair the damage after it has happened. Jesus had some guidance for us on this topic as well. Sorry Ben, but Jesus instructed us in this guidance well before your saying came about.
Pet Peeves and Jesus
All of us have them in one way, shape or form. They’re called “pet peeves”. Those little “things” that just seem to get under our skin and once they catch our attention, we just cannot seem to let them go. For some its smacking foot, others it’s loud clicks on a keyboard by someone next to us, the list goes on. For me, probably my #1 pet peeve of all time, hands down, is when someone says, “well what we should’ve done was…………..”. It just makes my blood boil and temperature rise. I mean, if you know what you should’ve done to keep something from happening, why didn’t you do it in the first place!!! Not only that, but how does saying that now fix the predicament we’re in right now? Mind boggling.
In Matthew 6:13, Jesus was teaching us how to pray and had this whole “prevention” concept in mind himself. “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one“. Here, in Jesus’ instructions to us on how to pray, He is telling us in plain language to pray for avoidance of those “things” that will lead to nothing but trouble for us later, specifically in deliverance from the tricks and deceptions of the devil himself.
The methods used by satan and his band of demons are not obvious. Think about that for a minute. If you’re setting a trap to catch a burglar or an animal of some type, you try your best to conceal that trap as much as possible. Make it blend in with the surroundings, camouflaged and unnoticeable. The master of deception and camouflage is satan himself. He’ll never make his traps to pull you into a complete mess obvious. What’s worse is that he knows every little detail that appeals to you. What is your weakness? Sex? Money? Alcohol? A particular drug? Television? Pornography?
Maybe your weakness isn’t even an obvious one from the list above. Maybe your weakness is something small, insignificant, and very unnoticeable. Let’s take reading the bible for example. Maybe you have this great show that comes on TV at a particular time. Maybe that time “just happens to be” right about the time the kids go to bed and before you go to bed. Nice! Time to yourself you think. Is a coincidence that this show that happens to appeal to your liking comes on at just the right time to grab your attention for an hour or so and by the time it’s done you’re too tired to read (the Bible) much less comprehend any reading by that time?
You bring your phone into church one day and like the good churchgoer you are, you silence it. But then right there in the middle of the sermon you notice text come through that you just have to look at. You read it giving it your full attention then put it down. Just then you realize you missed what the pastor just said but the part you caught really sounded like something you needed to hear. Coincidence that you missed it and something distracted you?
Satans traps are everywhere and he knows exactly the right one to set for you. They key is to know and recognize your own weaknesses right up front. That’s the first step to prevention.
Preventive vs. Reactive
Anyone who has ever worked in business, especially in a manufacturing industry, has heard the terms “Preventive Action” and “Reactive”. While preventive actions will keep you out of trouble, reactions only prove that you failed to do something right in the first place and are now in the midst of cleaning up your mess.
In a reactive environment, you’re constantly “putting out fires”. Those fires are the results of poor planning. Preventive actions are those actions you do up front to prevent failures, accidents, etc from ever occurring in the first place. What causes us to get into those “reactive” situations? In a hurry maybe to just get the job done. That’s a lack of patience. A bad decision to “just have one drink” that leads to us cleaning up the mess of a DWI. Just one peak at that provocative website that leads to porn which leads to being fired from a job. The list goes on and on.
God gave us His word, the Bible, as the ultimate life tool for taking preventive actions. Everything we need to know and the actions we need to take in order to prevent ourselves from falling for the traps of the devil himself is right there for us.
- Maybe your weakness is sex – 1st Corinthians 6:18, “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body“.
- Maybe your weakness is alcohol – Ephesians 5:18, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit“.
- Maybe your weakness is food or any other “thing” on this earth – Philippians 3:19, “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things“.
Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us precisely how to protect ourselves from the tricks and manipulations of satan. In particular, verse 13 tells us, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Notice that this verse does not say IF the day of evil comes, but instead it says WHEN the day of evil comes. It’s a given, satan will come for you, and he knows precisely what your weakness is.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it”. This is 1st Corinthians 10:13 and it’s one of my favorite scriptures in the bible. In this one scripture, God give us a heads up that temptation is coming to us, he gives us hope, relief, and accountability all at once. Here, He is telling us we will never be tempted beyond what we can handle. Further, God tells us he will not allow satan to tempt us with anything more than we can deal with. He tells us that He will provide us with a way out of that temptation, an escape, and like a good father and coach, He motivates us that we can endure the temptation that is coming. Remember, God will never tempt us, temptation ONLY comes from the devil himself. So here, God is providing us a way out and motivation to get through us, but at the same time He is holding us accountable to ACCEPT His way out.
Start today, now, at recognizing your weaknesses. What is that one thing, or those things, that you know in your heart are wrong, but they just keep pulling you back in? Make a list. Keep them on your conscious mind, and recognize them when they present themselves. Want to be a hero? Want to be that “tough guy” or “strong girl”? The next time one of those “traps” presents itself, pull up your Bible or search on Ephesians chapter 6 and read verses 10-18.