Between going to the Midwest Barista Regional Championship (which was very fun, everyone should attend!), getting sick, and doing the traditional Sunday stuff, I haven't written in a while. I am so ready for cold and flu season to be over! Sheesh!
Anyway, as far as my quest for No Gossip goes, it is a little more difficult in some ways than I anticipated. I am trying to cut out both gossip on a local level and especially celebrity gossip. The tricky part about the celebrity gossip (my main focus for now) is that it is EVERYWHERE! I mean, EVERYWHERE! Radio, regular news, front page of news websites. It's impossible to live in today's society without hearing somebody talk bad about somebody else--particularly about somebody they've never met. Though I am taking this challenge very seriously, I am not going to the extreme measure of turning off the radio. I am changing TV channels, and trying to ignore websites and checkstand magazines. But this stuff is everywhere!
On the personal gossip side, I found myself writing an email today specifically with the sole purpose of badmouthing someone. Not the mean, lying sort of badmouth, but the everyday, I-can't-believe-this-person-isn't-the-exact-person-I-want-them-to-be sort of thing. The good news is--I deleted it. Hooray for small steps!
My task reminds me greatly of the sermon my pastor (who tells us never to introduce him as pastor) Keith preached this Sunday. It was about Jesus' prayer in the garden of Gesthemane and, specifically, about temptation. He talked about how the Bible is our first line of defense against temptation, since it tells us the specifics of Satan's tactics. It tells us how, when, and who will tempt us. It blows all of his methods right out of the water. The best way to avoid temptation is to know when it's coming and ready your defenses. So I started to think about when I am most succeptible to temptation. I was looking at all forms of temptation, not just gossip. I dug back into my life to think about when I gave in in the big ways. Keith told the story of a girl who was a committed Christian who met a man and slowly turned her life to Islam, cutting off her family and all of her friends. And I think this demonstrates greatly the fact that the devil doesn't really have to tempt us when we are not following him. He really has to lure us when we are following our commitment to Jesus. Looking back at my times in college, the times when I started to follow closely with God and push for a deeper relationship is when Satan really let me have it. Up until yesterday, I couldn't figure out why I had such deep swings in college--from heavy commitment to complete abandonment. Then it hit me--I was not preparing myself, even amongst my great commitment, for the sneaky, small temptations the devil would use to lure me away from the good stuff. Had I prepared for temptation, or even thought through some of the small, bad decisions for sin, I would have realized that the riches of God were so much greater. But that is the trouble... Satan is studying our every weakness while we are not preparing ourselves for the battle.
I have now realized that when I get cocky in my faith, Satan gives me little slips to make me fall away. When I am firmly planted, the devil gives me doubt. When I am solidly standing above gossip, Satan makes me lonely and gives me someone who just LOVES to talk to me about all the stuff other people are doing wrong. And when I am on top of the world, Satan lets me know just how much better I am than everyone else, and the pride sinks in.
I don't know all the answers on how to defeat sin. But I do know two things: 1) It's all in the Good Book and up to me to find at 2) Knowing my weaknesses is the very first step into making them strong.
Matt 26:41 "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing but the body is weak."
1 Corinthians 10:13 "No temptation has seized 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 stand up under it."
Luke 22:46 "'Why are you sleeping?' he asked them, "Get up and pray so that you may not fall into temptation."
This has been incredibly long and a little more philosophical than I intended. But when you aren't gossiping about others, you have a lot of time to think about yourself. Here's to a lent of self-exploration...JWS