“You go, girl! You’ve got this!” cheered an oncoming runner. I didn’t recognize her, and she was shouting a little too loudly over the blare of her own headphones. Nevertheless, her words were music to my ears, giving me the much-needed impetus to make it up the hill that forms the last mile of my running route; the hill that, up until that morning, I thought I had finally conquered. Since running a half-marathon last month and realizing how much more I should have trained on that hill, I had been attacking it with determination and energy on my daily excursions. But as I faced it on this particular day, I felt a familiar, overwhelming urge to stop and walk—a bad habit I had fallen into in the weeks leading up to the half-marathon.
As I doggedly pressed my way upward, it occurred to me that my struggle to run that hill is not unlike dealing with temptation. I may know the right action to take to honor God, and I do well for a while, but then there’s the day I experience that awful feeling of, “I’ve been here before, and I can’t resist the urge to give in. Worse yet, I don’t even want to resist the urge to give in!”
One way I try to counteract those feelings is by quoting applicable scripture, as Jesus did during His temptation in the desert. For running that hill, my favorite scripture is Isaiah 40:31: “…they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” For times of anxiety, I have memorized Philippians 4:6-7: “…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” For times of anger, there is Ephesians 4:26-27: “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” As I recall these scriptures, God works in my heart, strengthening my resolve to stand firmly against sin, or provides a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13).
As my recent encounter with the enthusiastic fellow-runner so aptly illustrates, the encouragement of Christian friends is another vital resource on which to rely when battling temptation. I turn to several trusted spiritual mentors or a small-group Bible study to gain accountability, spiritual wisdom, and prayer support through the challenges of living in such a way as to honor the Lord, and to keep “a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander (1 Peter 3:16).” What a blessing it is to be cheered on by those stronger in the faith and more experienced in life!
Lord, thank you for your Word that strengthens me against temptation, and for godly counselors who cover me with wisdom and prayer.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great crowd 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. Hebrews 12:1