Jack and Jim were madly in love. They had each met the girl of their dreams, and though they lived in different cities and different states, their stories will be an eye-opener to the novice as well as the mature followers of Christ.
These men both eventually married the girls they had chosen. During the first months, their lives were lived in complete bliss. Neither had ever dreamed it possible that such a wonderful, kind, caring person as their wife could exist on planet earth. Their dreams had been fulfilled. No one would ever dare steal what God had given them!
As in most marriages, Jack and Jim both experienced ups and downs, and their busy lives kept them from spending much quality time with their wives; however both remained passionately in love.
Eventually both men were accosted by the temptations of life that many men face. Jack thought that there was nothing wrong with admiring God’s beautiful creations embodied in the opposite sex. Jim veered away from such temptations, for he felt that even looking would bring hurt to his wife.
One day, Jack was alone with a cute young woman who obviously had her eye on him. He thought of his beloved wife, alone at home, preparing supper for the two of them, but he quickly set this thought aside. How would she ever find out if he had a little “affair” with this young woman? And even if she did, he was sure that her enormous love for him would make it possible for her to forgive him. He still loved her passionately, but men are men, and who in their right mind could refuse such an offer?
Jack did what seemed inevitable, and this little affair blossomed far beyond what he had expected. His thoughts started to be consumed with this new passion and he had a hard time concentrating at work and at home.
Jim was also attracted to the beauty of a new employee, but he quickly dismissed the temptation. He feared that any lusty thoughts would eventually break the tender relationship he had with his wife. He could never imagine living without her. How could he even imagine hurting her in any way? He made sure to never be alone with that new employee and whenever tempted, he quickly forced his attention on the hurt it would cause his wife. His love for his wife came first, above anything else in the world. He’d rather quit his job than hurt his spouse.
Just like any sin, Jack’s affair was eventually made public, and to his horror, his beloved wife filed for divorce. He was devastated. He tried to make amends, but she stood firm. Jack’s life seemed to have come to a bitter end.
What a contrast between these two men. Jack’s love for his wife could not keep him from flirting with disaster. However Jim’s love and his desire to not hurt his wife kept him in line.
God’s Word often compares our relationship with God to married life: “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” (Rev 19:7 NIV)
Just like Jack, our love for God may not be enough to prevent us from falling into habitual sin. How often believers flirt with sin, believing their love for the One who died for them would prevent them from actually falling into such traps. Besides, if they did get caught up in the traps of sin, Jesus’ grace was abundant enough to come to their rescue and to forgive them, wasn’t it? So they eventually fall into sin and live lives trapped up in their addictions (sin is addictive!)
What does the Bible say about such men?
“Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live.” (Titus 1:16 NLT)
“I assure you that everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free.” (John 8:34-37 NLT)
If you fall into such temptation and end up becoming a slave to sin, return to God immediately! Renounce your lifestyle before it is too late! He will give you victory, if you let Him!
However the Bible clearly states that what will keep us from sinning is not our love for God but our fear of Him:
“They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me.” (Jer 32:38-41 NIV)
“Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” (Ex 20:20 NIV)
“But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” (Luke 12:5 NIV)
Does this mean that in order for us to be obedient to God, we have to be afraid of Him?
Far from that! Being afraid of someone is not the same as fearing someone. In the Bible, when someone is afraid of God, it’s usually when he has something to hide. A good example is found in Adam. After he sinned, he hid from God because he was “afraid” (see Gen. 3:8-10). On the other hand, fear of God is similar to the way Jim reacted when he faced temptation. He loved and respected his wife too much to risk hurting her in any way. He was unable to face the possibility to live without her for the remaining years he had on this planet. Believe me, the fear of hurting God and being separated from Him for eternity it is a solemn fear indeed!
The fear of God makes you love what He loves and hate what He hates, and the manifestation of this kind of fear is found in complete obedience to His Word. “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.” (1 John 5:3-4 NIV)
When tempted, I immediately paint an image in my mind of Jesus suffering on the cross for me. His unbelievable love and confidence in me and my desire to not hurt Him or be separated from Him motivates me to stay on the right path. Solely by relying on God can I can withstand temptation.
“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.” (1 Cor 10:13 NIV)
And so can you.
How sad to be found wanting before the judgment seat of God! Could any of us live for eternity separated from our Heavenly Father?
Remember: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” (Matt 7:21-23 NIV)
My prayer is that we may “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12 NIV), and in the end, resemble the One who died for us!
“As we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we are like Christ here in this world.” (1 John 4:17 NLT)
In whose shoes would you prefer to be? Jack’s? Or Jim’s?
(To access the entire “My Lord and Master” devotional series, please click here.)