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Day 9 of Lent: Where you get the real dirt on my vices

February 21, 2013

Verse for reflection: For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Romans 12:3

Caffeine used to be one of my major vices. I would get up, grope for my slippers, and soon pump fresh caffeine into my veins. Was I any different from the heroin addict, except that what I did was legal?

When one of our children was about fifteen months old and struggling to give up her bottle, I chuckled as I watched a grown man nurse a beer bottle with two hands one day at an archery competition. He looked so much like my toddler, attached to his security. Then in a flash I saw myself walking around the office or at home, coffee cup clutched between two hands.

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I’ve now given up the caffeine part (makes mammograms hurt less and I don’t get caffeine withdrawal headaches anymore) but still, getting that first cup of decaf coffee in the morning is a great motivator for getting out of bed.

I recently heard Dr. Brian Kelley, a psychology professor who has done much research on substance abuse say that cigarette addiction is so powerful because so much of the habit is associated with certain activities. You get up in the morning, you have to have your smoke. You drive to work, you go on break, you have lunch—all tied to the Vise (yes I mean that spelling) grip of the cigarette.

Whatever you’ve given up for Lent, Day 9 can be a tough time. The newness has worn off; your commitment is wearing thin. There are still 31 days to go. You are just so hungry for ____ (fill in the blank). You’ll just sneak on Facebook to catch this or that meditation. You’ll just watch that mindless 30 minute TV show. You deserve it. You aren’t on a quest to survive 40 days in the wilderness, after all; who but you will care if you cheat on your crazy “sacrifice” this year.

Jesus had those temptations and more.  Who but Jesus and God would know the outcome of the mind games Jesus played with the tempter.

We have much worse temptations and vices. Pride. Vanity. Thinking disparaging thoughts about our loved ones and friends—let alone our enemies. Hanging strong through Lent can give us the mental stamina to put aside the vices that really matter.

What can I learn from my own weaknesses which will help me be more understanding of others? How can I live a lifestyle that is healthy and pleasing to God?

Action: Every time you are “tempted” today to indulge in what you’ve give up, or to not practice the discipline you began at the start of Lent, say what Jesus ended up telling his tempter: “Away from me. I will worship the Lord my God.”

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From → Faith

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