READ: 2 Samuel 11-12
THINK: I have learned over and over again – though I wish the lesson would have stuck the first time – how easy it is to set yourself up for failure in this life. A really simple example? Over the last year I made a commitment to lose some weight. I needed to. But exercising and eating right are not high on the list of things I love in life – and they are especially difficult to start when you’re out of practice. So, I built some accountability into my goal by asking my wife to help me out. Two of the simplest goals I could set were quitting fast food and drinking way less pop. In order to accomplish these, Jenny stopped stocking the fridge with pop and she checked the credit card statement regularly to ensure there weren’t a bunch of fast food charges on it.
It worked great…until I was at Target doing grocery shopping one day and Mountain Dew was on sale. And I decided that I could get some for my work fridge and then drink it very slowly – maybe only a can per week when I was in desperate need of caffeine. So, I brought the rest of the groceries in the house and took the Dew to work. It was gone in a week. And when I got some cash for my birthday from my mom, guess what I did instead of taking it to the bank. I kept in my wallet so Jenny couldn’t track my fast food eating. It wasn’t her intention, but my mom gave me a whole bunch of cheeseburgers and burritos for my birthday.
Here’s the thing: I totally set myself up to fail in each of those situations! I knew, deep down, that I couldn’t resist the Dew if it was in a mini-fridge three feet away from me, and I knew just as clearly that if I was carrying cash with no accountability that some greasy fast food was gonna end up in my belly. But I worked hard to convince myself that this wouldn’t necessarily be the case. Partially because I wanted to believe in myself. Partially because a part of me kinda wanted the pop and the french fries even though I knew I shouldn’t have them.
David did the same thing in 2 Samuel 11. He was the king. Know what his job was? To lead the army. And in his younger days he never ever would have sent the army out without him. But this year he stayed behind. He knew where he was supposed to be – the best place for him to be – but he convinced himself that he’d be okay to just stay back at the palace instead. And then he went peeping on the roof. I think it’s safe to say that he wasn’t just looking for a pretty sunset up there. He probably did his best to convince himself that he was or maybe to justify his actions by saying that he just wanted to work on his tan – because we all know tanning is difficult for redheads – but deep down a part of him knew better. David didn’t choose to put himself in the best possible position. Instead he compromised and put himself in a position where he was likely to fail.
David’s position – at home on the palace roof – wasn’t necessarily a sinful one in and of itself. It wasn’t inherently more wrong than my having an emergency stash of Dew or a little cash in my pocket. But it was a place of weakness for David. It wasn’t the best place. And the core of the issue isn’t the place. It’s the heart. It’s an issue of where your heart is at in the moment. At another time in his life David might have been fine on the roof, but in that moment his heart was inclined toward lust. I think that the question all of us need to ask ourselves – and ask regularly – is this: where is my heart at right now and what kinds of things are tempting me? When we know that, we can be intentional about avoiding situations where we’re likely to fall, even if those situations aren’t inherently bad. Should you avoid going to that particular social gathering…looking at that website…going to that store…? What situations lead you closer to God and what ones lead you to temptation? Are you fleeing from evil or flirting with it?
PRAY: Ask God to show you your heart – to search you and know you and reveal the things that draw you away from him. And then pray that he’d give you the courage and strength to choose to be as intentional as possible about avoiding situations where you’ll be tempted.