lent resources two: cravings & control

1 Apr

[LENT 2011 at Sanctuary]

For the second week of Lent we focused in on cravings and control. Below you will resources and follow-up reflections.


Eph 4:28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

First, the command doesn’t stop with the “don’t” part.  The writer understands that that kind of instruction rarely helps.  when we’re told not to do something, how often are we truly compelled not to do it, especially if we enjoy it?  If it’s just me against the lust, the odds are already against me.

But there’s something else going on here…

If you tell the person who’s stealing not to, and you leave it at that, you’ve taken something away, but you haven’t replaced it with anything.  That’s why the instructions in Ephesians are so brilliant.  The urging to stop stealing is followed by the command to do “something useful with their own hands.” …

But it doesn’t stop there.  The command ends with the person who was stealing learning to do something good with their hands so that they can take care of the needs of someone else.  Stealing is about taking from someone.  This passage is about giving to someone who has less because you have more.

Stealing is the ultimate in being selfish.

Making something and giving it away is the ultimate in being generous.

This passage is about something central to what it means to be human.  It’s about desire.  It’s about the thief finding something they’ll desire more than stealing.

“You thought taking things for free was a rush?  Try giving free food to someone who’s starving.”

The writer of Ephesians understands that to tell the theif not to steal and leave it at that doesn’t have a very high chance of being helpful.  The thief will be left with a battle on their hands tht will pit them against their craving.

Whatever it is that has its hooks in you, you will never be free from it until you find something you want more.  It’s not about getting rid of desire.  It’s about giving ourselves to bigger and better and more powerful desires.

What are you channeling your energies into?

Because they will go somewhere.

If they don’t go into a few, select, disciplined pursuits that you are passionate about and are willing to give your life to, then they’ll dissipate into all sorts of urges and cravings that won’t even begin to bring the joy that the “one thing” could.

You are crammed full of the “madness of the gods.” And you will end up giving the force of your being to something.

Maybe it’s as simple as asking God to show it to you, to give it to you, to make you aware of it…

Life is not about toning down and repressing your God-given life force. It’s about channeling it and focusing it and turning it loose on something beautiful, something pure and true and good, something that connects you with God, with others, with the world.

What do you want more?

How can you make your life about that so that you won’t be tempted to give in to this?

Questions to engage:

Grab your journal, find a quiet place, and search your heart.

– What is this craving promising?

– Can it deliver?

– Is this lust about something else?

– What is the lie here?

– Where is the good in this person or thing?

– Where is the good that has been distorted?

– What good thing has God made here that has been hijacked?

– Have I been tempted like this before?

– Have I given in before?

– What was it like?

– Did it work?

– Was I more satisfied or more empty?

– What will the moment, the morning, or the week after be like?

– Is there a pattern here?


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