Tag Archives: temptation

Foot In the Door

Story of the Day for Friday August 17, 2012

Foot In the Door

 

                 Don’t let the devil get his foot in the door. 

                                                        Ephesians 4:27

 

 Dale Hays once wrote in Leadership magazine about a trip he made to Haiti.  While there, he heard a Haitian pastor tell the people a parable, which went like this:

A man put his house up for sale.  He found a potential buyer, but the man was so poor he could not afford the full asking price.  After a lot of haggling, the owner agreed to sell the house for half price, with one stipulation: he would retain ownership of one nail sticking out above the front door.

After a few years, the original owner wanted the house back, but the new owner was unwilling to sell.  So, the original owner found the carcass of a dead dog, and hung it from the single nail he still owned.  Soon the stench made the house unlivable, and the man was forced to sell his house to the former owner.

The Haitian pastor was trying to teach his people, that, if we leave the Devil with one small peg in our life, he will return to hang his rotting garbage on it.

 

We all tend to judge things by size.  Big things are important; little things much less significant.  That is why the devil’s “foot-in-the-door” strategy is especially dangerous.  “It’s just a foot, after all,” we reason, “how harmful could that be?”

But, deep inside, we know better.  The small, daily choices we make are far more significant than the few “major decisions” in the arc of our lives.

When I’m on a diet, I never decide to pig out on an entire bag of potato chips.  I just tell myself, “How bad could one measly handful of chips be?”  After the first handful I say, “Okay, but that was a small handful.  Just one more . . .” When the feeding frenzy is over, there’s nothing left but an empty bag.

 

We cannot completely avoid the presence of temptation.  But we can control the “foot in the door.”  In other words, no matter how holy you are, you are still going to bump into lots of bags of potato chips.  The crucial moment of temptation comes earlier than we usually suppose.  The best time to resist temptation is not after eating “just one handful”; the best time to exercise self-control is before we shove our hand into the bag.

 

Starlings are a major nuisance in many parts of our country.  Unlike many other birds, they roost together.  They can completely carpet an area with their whitewash, and emit a stink that could kill a cow at a hundred paces.

Did you know these pests are not native to North America?  Starlings first came to America when Eugene Schieffelin fashioned the noble dream of introducing to America every bird found in Shakespeare’s works.  If you’re working with our theme at all, you already know my point: someone should have murdered Shakespeare before he started writing about birds! (I’m kidding, okay? I love Shakespeare.)

I am certain, however, that if Eugene the Goofball had foreseen the consequences, he never would have opened the door.

                          (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

There Are No Shortcuts

Story of the Day for Monday September 19, 2011

There Are No Shortcuts

                     The devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to him, “I will give you all these if you fall down and worship me.” 

                                                                               Matthew 4:8-9

 Every now and then, my kids will say, “Yes, but wouldn’t that be like one of Dad’s shortcuts?”  Among my children, I live in infamy as a cautionary tale.

I earned my reputation through a bold, intrepid spirit and a good dose of stupidity.  Our family loves to hike in the wilderness.  I am a bushwhacker and love to get off trail to investigate the lay of the land. Invariably, I will say something like, “Hey, kids, I think I know a shortcut.  If we climb that cliff, we can reach that draw up there, then drop down into the Spotted Bear basin, and we’ll hit the trail to Dean Falls.”

At the time, it always seems like such a good idea.  But, invariably, we discover we have wandered into a box canyon, or into brush and downed timber so dense you can barely move.

Now, just because my past shortcuts have been debacles, does that mean that they will be disastrous in the future?  Unfortunately, yes.  The trails in the wilderness are where they are for a reason.  I will always be a bushwhacker, but I am slowly learning that my shortcuts inevitably will involve more time and effort than taking the trail.  Nancy Dornan put it well, “The longest distance between two points is a shortcut.”

 

The Lord provides the best trail to our destinations in life.  Yet, we have known, through painful experience, the foolishness of trying to take shortcuts.  No matter how many times our shortcuts to going God’s way have failed, we still retain the illusion that this time, our dishonesty, or our greed, or our laziness will work to our advantage.

It won’t.

 

The devil offered Jesus a shortcut.  He came to this earth to become Lord and King of the people of this fallen planet?  Very well, the devil had an easy way to win them.  If Jesus would simply kneel in reverence to the devil, the kingdoms of this world would be his.  No need for suffering.  No need to be spiked to a cross.

It was a shortcut, all right.  But what would he be Lord of?  He would rule over a sinful, dark world and would now become a part of it.

Jesus did not simply come to be our King; he came to bring us into the kingdom of light.  He came to rescue us from this evil realm and take us home.

And, for Jesus to do that for us, there are no shortcuts.

                                                                (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)