Character Demands Cowardice

scaredThis weekend I began a 31-day devotional time through http://www.challies.com called “31 Days of Purity.” I invite you to come along with me as we seek gospel-purity in mind, body, and heart. Regardless of who we are: a pastor, a painter, a new believer, a seasoned saint, a fifteen-year-old adolescent or a couple that has been married sixty years, purity is something that must be fought for, battled toward, and sought after daily, determinedly, and delightfully.

Today I just want to share a thought, a strange thought that gripped me this morning. If we are to develop character, we must first develop cowardice. Now that sounds strange. That’s bizarre. We instinctively know that cowardice is not a virtue but a vice. Indeed, C.S. Lewis through the mouth of Screwtape notes that for all of the sin we celebrate, “we have made men proud of most vices, but not of cowardice.” We want to be brave. We do not honor cowards.

But there is one sense in which we should. If we are to grow in purity, we have to run from temptation as fast as we can. I read a tweet from Dr. Owen Strachan earlier this morning that reminded me of this foundational truth: “The first step to fighting adultery, ironically, is fleeing it.” Strachan then points us to Proverbs 5. The teacher instructs his son in the way of fighting temptation: flee it. In Proverbs 5:8, the author tells the reader to stay away, to run away from the presence of the tempter. He writes, “Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house.” He then points us to Genesis 39 and the example of Joseph who fled from the house where Potiphar’s wife had tried to seduce him.

If I am ever to do battle against temptation, there has to be deep down within me the realization that I am not strong, I am not impenetrable. I am not invincible. That means I’m not able to play with, flirt with, or cuddle with the allure of adultery – physical, emotional, or spiritual. God wants a scaredy-cat who has enough good sense to run as fast as he can to his Word, to his Spirit, to his promises, to his goodness, and to his grace.

The bravest thing I can do is be a coward, for the sake of my character, my life with Christ, my marriage, my ministry, and myself. I do not trust myself enough to get too close.

When I see and sense temptation there is one needed response: run.

– Pastor Cade

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