When we are stuck in sin there are a few angles to consider. The most obvious one is that we are stuck in sin because we like it more than we want to fight it. Rarely do we lash ourselves to the mast to avoid the Sirens’ song or threaten personal dismemberment when we go back to the same old idols. Jesus calls us to be merciless and violent with our lusts (Matt. 11:12 KJV) yet when we do battle with something we love, our aim often becomes friendly borders rather than utter destruction.
Here is one example of a man who has had enough. He is sick of certain sins and has strategized how to put them to death. He has sent the following plan to his wife, pastor and a few friends. Granted, a list doesn’t lead to change in itself. Anyone can make a list. But a written list that is public is a fine start.
Here is his plan. I left the first part in his caps, which usually means that someone is angry and yelling, but in his case it is simply the way he likes to write his notes.
- I HAVE A LOT MORE ANGER THAN I THINK I DO.
- I SPEND MORE TIME THINKING I’M A NICE GUY THAN REPENTING AND SEEKING HUMILITY. I GIVE MYSELF MORE CREDIT THAN I DESERVE.
- WHEN I’M FEARFUL, I COVER IT WITH ANGER.
- WHEN I FEEL HOPELESS, I COVER IT WITH ANGER.
- I EXPECT OTHERS TO MOVE TOWARDS ME SO THAT I DON’T HAVE TO TAKE THE RISK OF BEING HURT OR REJECTED. I RESPOND INSTEAD OF INITIATE.
- I DON’T LIKE BEING AT THE MERCY OF OTHERS, OR NEEDING THEIR MERCY & FORGIVENESS.
- WHEN I FEEL CRITICISED, I VIEW MYSELF AS A VICTIM AND ACT BOTH DEFENSIVELY AND OFFENSIVELY. I DON’T TRUST THE ONE BEING CRITICAL, AND I DON’T TRUST THE SPIRIT TO BRING SOMETHING GOOD OUT OF TIMES WHEN I FEEL HURT.
- Trust Jesus Christ & appreciate his mercy and grace towards me—first, foremost, always.
- Return kindness in the face of adversity—listen to criticism openly & without fear.
- Practice gratitude—to the Lord—to my wife. Value—expressions of love—patience & perseverance.
- Seek spiritual growth personally & with the influence & encouragement of others.
- Keep my promises—exercise integrity.
- Act authoritatively & responsibly—do the work. No more passivity.
- Speak the truth in love and without judgment.
- Remember that my spouse is hurting and vulnerable and needs empathy, compassion & encouragement.
- Love & respect my spouse & value her opinions.
- Talk openly & vulnerably.
- Pursue honesty.
I find that there are three levels of clarity. When I only think about something, my thoughts are embryonic and muddled. When I speak about it, my thoughts become clearer, though not always. When I write about it, I jump to a new level of clarity.
If there is any practical wisdom in this progression, then a written plan that is edited and witnessed by others is good practice and indicates that we are ready to take our souls to task.