Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Overwhelming Temptations

I am sitting here writing a blog post, when I'd much rather not be. The reason being I am afflicted with what many people in this generation suffer from, instant gratification. From scrolling down Facebook feeds to browsing through hundreds of Instagram pictures, our inclination towards immediate rewards has put us in a world where our backs are turned to global warming and slow internet connection is the next worst thing. Productive hobbies like reading a book suffer at the hands of more exciting options like watching Youtube clips. Especially nowadays with smartphones and social media, getting distracted is that much easier. I've already visited every social media platform and watched a couple videos by the time you have read this sentence. The sad reality is our generations ability to reap long-term benefits by exercising self-control are being overwhelmed by daily temptations.

The future is a far and distance place. It is too abstract to imagine so it is best not to think about it too much. Let's think about now and the freshly baked cookie in front of us, crisp to a golden brown on the outside and moist with oozing chocolate on the inside. Why bother with our diet, because after all you only live once. In fact, why bother studying for finals or polishing our skills on the ukulele when there are statuses to read or pictures to like. That seems so much more fun, right? It is, but only because we have let ourselves indulge to the point of addiction.  

Like the habitual cocaine user, we find ourselves using social media to feel normal. When our phones are out of hand we feel uncomfortable. Mornings are started by checking text messages and notifications which continue late into the night as the glow of our screens keep us awake. We have stuffed ourselves so full of instant gratifications that when we deprive ourselves of social media or other distractions we find ourselves back where we started, scrolling through Facebook's newsfeed. I know I am not the only one who has found themselves aimlessly wandering social media. While social media may be the most prevalent, in the past those distractions for me have been video games and drinking as well. Temptation comes in many different forms, small or big, but it's goal is always the same, to stop us from achieving a greater reward.

Play for an example on the consequences of temptation.

Whether that reward is two marshmallows (watch video above), studying for a higher GPA, working out for a six pack abs, or being holy for an eternal reward in heaven - got heavy real fast - delayed gratification and resisting temptation is something we all need to practice. Often times we are tempted in ignorance. Playing video games was  innocent fun as a child. Playing hours on end I did not see the harm in it. What could be so bad? Even through countless fights with my mother I did not see what was so bad about it.
"As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do."
          1 Peter 1:14-15

But I grew older I realized why, it was nothing more than a waste of time. Beyond my own enjoyment they served no other purpose but to distract me from bigger goals of helping people. I can argue it helped me bond with my friends but we could have chosen to bond in more productive ways. I can argue it didn't harm anyone, but neither did the passerby's who witnessed Kitty Genovese bleed to death on the street. They saw her suffering and did nothing to help her. Sometimes doing no good is the same as doing evil. At the point of my realization, I was no longer in ignorance and turning back to my old ways meant I was willingly and knowingly choosing selfishly.
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."
          Romans 12:2

Don't get me wrong, social media is an indispensable tool that connects people and allows opportunities otherwise not possible. It is not social media that is evil, but how we use it. When Facebook becomes a distraction that turns us into phone zombies, when we feel more disconnected rather than connected, when we use it to fill that lonely hole inside of us, then social media becomes a vice for our selfish desires.
"I have the right to do anything," you say--but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything"--but not everything is constructive."
         1 Corinthians 10:23

Everyday must be a struggle, a battle against our desires that lead to no good, an ability to say no in the face of thirsty lust. Temptations will come in one form or another to lead us astray from the goals we set for ourselves. Learning in school and going to the gym are much more rewarding than a few drunken night. There will be days, months, where we find ourselves losing the battle but the fight for our souls must continue. Our will cannot be controlled by worldly things, for God has called us to greater things.

Immediate rewards like partying, or gaming are roadblocks to higher aspirations. Temptation will always be there, it is up to us to decide how hard we will resist it. Sometimes the difference between immediate rewards and delayed gratification are just one or two marshmallows, but other times it can be the difference between life and death. When the difference is understood, we must choose to stay stagnant, indulging in our guilty pleasures for the rest of our lives or leave our old ways behind and mature.

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