New year, new you! Maybe? Have you broken your resolution yet? I know its only a few days into the new year, but leftover Christmas candy can be tempting. (Our stash has been mysteriously disappearing while my wife is at work.)
Maybe you’re still going strong! You’ve been eating healthy, exercising more, limiting your time on social media, or you haven’t missed a day of reading the Bible. Congratulations!
If you want to maintain your resolution or you’re ready to give it another shot, then let’s talk. In Overcoming the Odds, I shared how trust in God is vitally important to maintain our resolutions. There is a second key to keeping strong. This key is not limited to our New Year’s resolutions. It’s for anyone who struggles with temptation and sin, like every human being does. We mess up and wish we could stop. We’re in the same boat as the apostle Paul who wrote “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:19 ESV). If you’re ready for a change, then try this; stop looking at the curb.
A friend taught me this lesson while he was learning to drive. Although he was a nearly flawless driver he had difficulty turning corners. Almost every time he would hit the street curb, making his parents let out a big grunt. He tried so hard to dodge those curbs, but with each turn, BUMP went the car and UGH went the parents. To avoid hitting the curbs so much, my friend began sitting up and peering out the window to gauge where the curb was. But this seemed to only increase how often he would hit them. The solution came at last when he stopped looking for the curb and began keeping his eyes straight ahead. It was only then that he missed the corner and stopped throwing his passengers into the air.
When trying to resist temptation, we frequently put too much attention on the behavior we want to avoid and not enough on Christ. We keep thinking about the temptation or recalling how we’ve messed up and we end up driving ourselves right back into the thing we’re trying to avoid. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy. It happens because we think it will happen. When we focus too much on the curb, then we’re going to hit the curb. We need to redirect our focus.
Rather than focusing on the temptation we want to avoid, we must learn to keep our eyes on the road in front of us. We must learn to focus our life on Christ. It is through Him alone that we can resist temptation and say no to sin. On our own, we’re bound to run into the curb again and again. But when we focus on what is in front of us, when we focus on Christ, that is where we’ll go. We begin to let Him take control and point us in the right direction. Our focus becomes about drawing near to Him rather than putting the focus on moving away from the temptation. While the motion is one in the same, the point of focus makes all the difference.
So whether you’re working on New Year’s resolutions or you working on saying no to temptation, just remember, stop looking at the curb. Start focusing on Christ.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2