Articles

Smoking or Non?

In Soul Food on March 28, 2011 by The Spillover

When I was younger I was a smoker. Quitting was one of the hardest things, up until that time, that I’d ever done.

The addiction so permeated my being that I would actually fool myself out of quitting. My mind would play tricks on me. I would quit for a week or so, then my addiction would tell me, “See there, you’ve proven that you can quit. You went a whole week. Now, while you’re still young, you might as well get back to enjoying cigarettes. You’ve shown that you can quit whenever you feel like it.”

Of course, at the time, I didn’t know that my thinking was being manipulated by my addiction. In reality, I was unable to quit.

So a year or two after my wife and I began dating, I conjured up the courage to get serious about quitting for the thousandth (roughly) time. Mind you, I was madly in love with her. I couldn’t stand for her to be unhappy, and I hated being in fights for any reason. So here’s what I did…

I told her I was quitting, and if I were to relapse and smoke a single cigarette, I wanted her to act like she hated me. Seriously, to rage on me. I asked her to be the most unpleasant, sharp-tongued woman she could possibly be. For a long time.

This method was crucial in helping me to quit smoking. I wanted to smoke so bad, I really did, but the fact that I was accountable wouldn’t let me. I couldn’t stand the thought of Chelsea acting like she hated me.

Being accountable got me over the hump.

In the same vein, we need fellowship with each other to get serious about our shortfalls. We have the Word of God, we have the Holy Spirit within us, but we also have that old nature of ours following closely behind, calling to us. We have an enemy who wants us to fail and fall into sin and easy living.

As John Calvin put it, “The human heart is an idol factory”. It craves pleasure, comfort, indulgence, self-glory, apathy, and compromise.

These things are addictions that our old nature craves. They’re tough to quit.

Without knowing it, we can fool ourselves into compromising, much like I fooled myself into remaining a smoker. In reality, I was being weak and stubborn. I was hooked, and I was justifying it. This was easy because I wasn’t accountable to anyone but myself.

The fact is, whether or not you or I know it, accountability enables us to reach a higher plateau than we can by ourselves. We can’t trust ourselves. We make goals and statements all the time, many of which never come to fruition because we compromise in our minds. New Years resolutions, anyone?

In our walk with Christ, we need to fellowship with other believers. God designed us this way. We need to meet with each other and let the Holy Spirit guide our discussions. We need to be honest with each other about our struggles. We need to vocalize goals that relate to the Kingdom. Giving, helping, doing, sharing, achieving. These things are not easy.

When we get “gut-level honest” (as Pastor Dave puts it) with each other, being led by the Spirit, sharing honestly, confessing sins, admitting struggles, praying for each other, challenging each other, loving each other, encouraging each other,  getting serious about repentance, discussing the Word, and stepping out in faith, we are eliminating the things that hold us back from bearing fruit for God.

God wants us in close community so we can confess our sins and pray for each other (James 5:16) and spur each other on toward bearing fruit for God (Hebrews 10:24).

If you think this level of fellowship is not something you need, you’re letting yourself fool yourself.

There’s never been a better time than right now to call/text/email another believer and ask if they’d like to get a cup of coffee. There doesn’t need to be a reason or an agenda. Some of the most fruitful relationships of my life have started this exact way.

Don’t let yourself fool yourself. Take a leap of faith. Get more connected than you are right now.

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