Faith Self-Management

Beware of Thieves

As men, we need to beware of spiritual and moral traps that can pop up around us.  Satan is the ultimate perpetrator of spiritual fraud, orchestrating the deception of the human race by many different means.  He is also like a thief, who tries to take away from Christians the best things we experience in life. Today there are many forms of fraud which dishonest people try to perpetrate on anyone who they believe may go along with the trap.  It can be easy to fall for some of these forms of fraud because of the clever methods used by the thieves. Their method of operation can use technology like to invite you to click on an interesting-sounding link in an email, or it can be an old method like if they call you claiming to be someone they are not.  Thieves don’t always “sound like” you might expect and they can find many different means to entrap us if we let them. In John 10 Jesus described himself as the true shepherd. John 10:1-3a says, “I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.  The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice.”  Jesus describes his followers as being like the sheep, who know their Master.  John 10:4-5 says, “his sheep follow him because they know his voice.  But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  These passages in John describe following Christ.  Sheep of the true Shepherd will not follow a stranger.  The true Shepherd leads his sheep to what is best for them.  Then in John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  

Sinful Worldly Influences 

Sinful worldly influences around us are like traps put in our path that can steal, kill, or destroy the good God wants to provide us in our life.  The traps can have a kind of attraction to us. Their immediate appeal at the time can sound good but they have a way of stealing or destroying the good.  A good example is pornography. Pornography is a spiritual threat that should not be trifled with. Pornography has robbed men of their marriages, of good jobs, and of respect from others.  It is Satan’s purpose to bring down Christians, so we will not be effective in serving God or in encouraging the faith of others. Pornography is clearly wrong because of Jesus’ teaching on lust (Matthew 5:28), and other Scriptures that emphasize pure thinking and self-control (Philippians 4:8; 1 Peter 4:7).  

Living the Gray Areas

Other influences around us are not so clearly defined as “right” or “wrong” in and of themselves by Scripture, yet they can cause problems.  Christians may differ on how they view drinking alcohol for example. Ephesians 5:18 says “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.  Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” Many have lost their lives or jobs from overconsumption of alcohol.  Alcohol can also influence others in an unintended way, leading them to be too careless or to be led to unwise behavior.  Romans 14:21 refers to avoiding making a brother fall, “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.”  Each man must be brutally honest with themselves and with God about what causes themselves or others to stumble.  We each have to set reasonable limits for ourselves. Remember that your friends do not have to live with the consequences of your choices, you do.  By God’s grace, we can find the right balance and be good examples to others.

Living with Our Own Brokenness

As men, we tend to have certain negative tendencies, but it depends on our personality and upbringing.  Anger can be a struggle for many men. A peculiar thing about anger is that when you feel it, it seems justified.  There is such a thing as righteous anger, but the challenge is to restrain yourself when you feel like taking an action or saying something you may regret.  Ephesians 4:26-27 is relevant, “ ‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”  Even if anger is justified in a certain situation, we may still tend to say the wrong thing in reacting to it.  James 1:19-20 is so practical here, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”  When I was a young man I worked with my father some.  He had a problem with anger, which made it very difficult to work with him.  Anyone with this kind of experience with their own father tends to pick up the same habit.  Thus, you have to deliberately work at not being quick to anger. Anger tends to come out in what we say.  God’s Spirit enables us to be patient and kind, even to people around us who may not deserve it or appreciate it.  

Listening to Your Father’s Voice

Some Christian men make a good start but a situation arises, perhaps in their marriage, or perhaps at work where they react the wrong way and it can be costly.  Our culture has many spiritual and moral traps placed all around us. The traps take many forms, such as in sexual impurity, greed, anger, debt, or bad language.  We must learn to keep our true Shepherd’s voice (from Scripture) in mind and avoid these traps so that the good God is doing in our lives will not be derailed. Life is like a long-distance race.  We must stay on the right path and pace ourselves so we can make it to the finish line. We all fall short, but if we follow Christ day by day depending on Him, he will keep us from major errors. If we are honest with ourselves and with God, He can take us from where we are to where we should be.    

Warrior On!

Wayne Spencer

Wayne has a Masters degree in Physics from Wichita State University. Wayne was once a science teacher but is now Senior Product Manager of Interface Development for a software company in Dallas, TX. Wayne maintains the website and appears regularly on a Podcast called Good Heavens, available at Wayne Spencer has been a good friend of David Riffel since their college days.

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