Do the opposite
To overcome sin, we need to head in the other direction
I’ve recently started reading D.L. Moody’s classic, The Overcoming Life. A guide for Christian living, the book covers several aspects of life in which we must overcome: Spiritual warfare, sin, etc. During the section on “internal foes,” Moody covers the enemy of self. He writes that, “’I’ is the centre of S-I-N. It is the medium through which Satan acts.”
He goes on to explain various internal struggles that each of us face – as relevant when he wrote the book in 1896 as they are today – from appetite and temper to envy and pride. Moody’s advice seems so obvious, and yet while reading, I found myself in the midst of a discovery.
To conquer our internal foes, we must do the opposite. Whatever is juxtaposed to our struggles, that is the thing we should do. When it comes to sin, we need to do the opposite. To overcome sin, we need to head in the other direction.
When we are tempted by pride, we need to be humble. Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” Someone once said that when you are wrong, you should admit it, and when you are right, you should be quiet. Maybe you are right. Perhaps someone else is getting the glory. In times when pride is your first instinct – and if we’re being honest, pride is the first instinct for each of us, because we’re human – it takes true character to put yourself in check and take the high road of humility. God will give you grace, guaranteed (James 4:6).
When you find yourself in want, purpose in your heart to give. Proverbs 11:25 says, “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that waters shall be watered also himself.” See also 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, which tell us that “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” Greed can quickly overpower giving if we let it. It times when you find yourself in want of more, remember that nothing you have on this earth is truly yours, and you can’t take any of it with you (Job 1:21). As Jesus said in Luke 12:15, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” What are you placing emphasis on in your life?
And how about jealousy? Each one of us are guilty of being green with envy. You may be familiar with quote, “Kill them with kindness.” Proverbs 25:21-22 says, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap coals of burning fire on his head.” (Proverbs 25:21-22). This is a truth that applies not just to those who treat you adversely, but to those of whom you’re jealous as well. Maybe it’s a co-worker, or perhaps a friend. It could even be someone in your own family. Just remember, you’ll never look good by trying to make someone else look bad. When jealousy strikes, try a dose of kindness instead.
Because we’re human, goodness isn’t an instinct that comes naturally. It’s only when we purpose to be the change that changes really happen. As Moody said, “If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.” Doing good is not always easy, but in due season you’ll reap, as long as you don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9)