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Struggling With Temptations and Fantasies

Loving God with all your mind helps guard against falling to temptation.
By Shannon Ethridge


In the movie What Women Want, Nick Marshall (played by Mel Gibson) develops a telepathic ability to hear each thought, opinion, and desire that goes through every woman’s head.

Imagine this: Tomorrow morning you wake up and every man on the planet has developed the ability to read your mind just by being in your presence. Does the thought make you nervous? You bet it does!  Especially when we consider the thoughts that roll around in our minds on a regular basis that we would never articulate to anyone! Thoughts such as: 

  • “I wonder if he thinks I’m attractive?”
  • “I wonder if he knows that I think he’s attractive?”
  • “I wonder what it would be like to kiss him?”
  • “Could he be The One?”

 And what if every woman developed this ability too? They might hear things such as:

  • “She really thinks she’s something, doesn’t she?”
  • “How did she get a handsome guy like that?”
  • “I wonder if her husband would be interested in me if anything ever happened to her?”
  • “At least I’m not that fat!”

Even though we can rest assured that men and women aren’t likely to develop this sensitivity any time soon, we have an even bigger concern. God has had this ability all along. Could you, like David, be so bold as to pray such a thing as this: “Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind” (Psalm 26:2)?

Notice David didn’t say, “Examine my actions.” He asked God to examine what was inside of him. What about you? What’s on the inside of your heart and mind? Even women who have never had a serious relationship nor been involved in inappropriate sexual activity often have impure thoughts and longings. Regardless of our past, all of us share in this struggle.

But just because all women have tempting thoughts, it doesn’t mean that it is wise to indulge in them or entertain them. It’s one thing to have random sexual thoughts or inappropriate emotional longings. We are only human. God does not hold these things against us. It is another, more dangerous thing to entertain these thoughts in our minds over and over or to indulge in frequent fantasies with little regard to the nature of what is going on in our heads. As the famous quote says,

Sow a thought, reap an action;
Sow an action, reap a habit;
Sow a habit, reap a character;
Sow a character, reap a destiny.
—Samuel Smiles

I want the thoughts that I sow to reap positive actions and habits so that I can have Christlike character and fulfill the destiny God has for me.

Keeping the main thing the main thing

Do you recall what Jesus said is by far the most important thing in life?

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  This is the first and greatest commandment. (Matthew 22:37-38)

This verse doesn’t say that Jesus wants us to love the Lord with whatever is left of our heart, soul, and mind. Nor does it say that God should consume our every thought every minute of the day. Most of us can’t sit around all day and meditate on God. He knows you have a life. He’s the one who gave it to you, and He wants You to be a good steward over your marriage relationship, your children’s education, your career, your household responsibilities, your church and social commitments, and so on.

According to these verses, Jesus wants us to love God more than any of the other things that demand our time and attention. We are to love God above anything else in this world, with as much strength and passion as each of us possibly can. We demonstrate this love for God by focusing our thoughts and energies on those things He’s prepared for us to do and that are also pleasing to Him. God wants us to do just as Paul encouraged the people of Philippi to do:

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4:8).

To show you how this works, I’ll tell you about a typical day in my life when I’m able to keep my focus on godly things. I usually wake up with a worship song rolling around in my head, and I’ll more than likely hum a few bars or even bellow it out in the shower. As I prepare for the day, I try to look my best to give a positive impression to the people I will encounter. As I make breakfast, get the kids ready for school, make a grocery list, fill the car up with gas, and drop bills by the post office, I am serving my family. As I go about my work responsibilities, I do it for the sake of advancing God’s kingdom. As I send a note to a hurting coworker, forward a funny e-mail to my friend, call to check on my neighbor, I do it to build and maintain healthy and positive relationships.

All of these thoughts and actions are acts of responsible stewardship. I do them out of appreciation for the family and friends that God has given me. Is God my one and only constant thought throughout the day? No. But even as I think on the various other things that demand my attention, am I loving God with all my heart, soul, and mind? Absolutely.

When we demonstrate responsible stewardship of the life He has given us, our lives offer proof of our love.

From Every Woman's Battle by Shannon Ethridge. Copyright © 2003 by Shannon Ethridge. Used by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Penguin Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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