$87

groceries with receipt

stevepb / Pixabay

A week or two ago, I went to the Walmart Neighborhood Market in our, well, neighborhood. I intended to buy only a gallon of milk and a pack of candy for Timmy. It was a trip that should have cost me about $3.50.

Want to know what I wound up buying?

  • Brown sugar
  • Frozen chicken nuggets
  • 2 tubes of kid toothpaste
  • A squishy toy for Lindsey
  • 2 gallons of Blue Bell ice cream (chocolate chip cookie dough and vanilla)
  • 3 gallons of milk
  • 3 boxes of cereal
  • 1 box of ice cream cones (to go with the Blue Bell)
  • 1 package of gum
  • A giant box of Eggo waffles
  • A giant bag of candy
  • 1 bag of chocolate chips
  • 2 packs of rawhide dog bones
  • 6 bags of dog treats
  • 1 bag of jelly beans
  • 1 dog toy

That’s because once I got to the store, I kept thinking of things I needed or wanted, and before I knew it, I had spent $87. Not $3.50, but $87.

Of course, if I had been going to Target instead of Walmart, I would have gone in there for $3.50 worth of merchandise and come out having spent $287, instead of $87. But that’s beside the point. The point is that once I got started, I spent more than I had intended to.

In this case, it wasn’t a problem. We had the money, and we would make good use of all the things I bought. Giving in to temptation turned out okay this time.

That’s not always the case.

We think we can control temptation’s grip on us. We think we can safely go just so far and no farther, but we wind up dishonoring our Lord because we trusted in our ability to make the right decision in the heat of temptation—despite repeated failures on our part, which should have been sufficient to prove to us that relying on our own willpower is not a good idea.

If we were smart—and if we truly understood our weaknesses—we’d never walk willingly into a tempting situation we could avoid. If there was no way to avoid it, we’d never walk in without taking precautions to keep ourselves from sinning. We’d consider in advance what temptations we might be about to face, and we’d do whatever it took to strengthen ourselves for the moment when temptation came upon us.

We’d pray on a regular basis. We’d read Scripture, fellowship with other believers, and attend church. We’d do all this, and more, in advance, so that when the battle came, we’d be victorious.

If you need to be more proactive about resisting temptation—and which of us doesn’t? —I encourage you to read Ephesians 6:10-18, one verse of which is quoted below. This passage tells us what God says we should do if we want to withstand temptation instead of fall to it. It’s the “Armor of God” passage, and it tells us how to gird ourselves for the battle.

It also points out that we need to gird ourselves before the battle comes, not after. Because by then, it may be too late.

Ephesians 6:18—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.  (NIV)

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