|Posted on March 16, 2020 at 8:50 AM|
Today’s reflection continues my review of the Seven Deadly Sins. Today I look at the sin of Lust. The Bible speaks of lust and greed in very similar ways. It does so because lust is a particular manifestation of greed – one directed towards the desire to possess and use another person or thing. So, in the Ten Commandments, God warns Israel not to “covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant” (Exodus 20:17).
Jesus had no patience for lust. He didn’t mince words about how one should deal with it: in Matt. 5:29-30 Jesus says “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you…if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you.” Jesus takes lust seriously, more seriously I’d say than most of us. It’s not that Jesus is in favor of self-mutilation: after all, one-eyed and one-handed people can still lust, yet his words do direct us towards drastic action against sin in our own hearts and lives.
Our bodies are designed by God to recognize beauty, to be attracted, and even to be aroused. They do this by a natural impulse which is apart from any lustful intent. But when we go beyond simple admiration for something and there becomes a flaming desire within us to have the item, that’s when we need to be very careful.
I believe lust is essentially selfishness and is related to last week’s sin of Greed. Lust wants to take, keep, and use whatever it finds most desirable. It’s a desire to possess, to have for yourself what does not rightly belong to you. Yes, it can be sexual, but it can be much more than that. I could look at my neighbor’s Tesla and lust after it.
Here is my self-examination this week: I will admit that at a certain point in my younger life, I fought sexual lust. I was young, and I didn’t even realize at first that it was lust – I just thought I wanted to be desirable to the opposite sex. This desire caused me to make some poor relationship choices, and I will not share the details here. But I knew that some of the actions that resulted from my desires were sinful, and that’s where my problem was. It was only later that I learned I needed to value myself for who I was, NOT for the opinions of others. The best step I took to alleviate this sin was to make a good confession.
Today I am still tempted by lust - the devil seems to know exactly what tempts me! But I have learned how to remain vigilant so I am able to recognize when a want could turn into lust, and to let the temptation go before I act on it. And then to get to confession!
How about you? Have you had a problem with lust in your life? Perhaps this week you can examine your life to see if lust is lurking. If you find a problem, I suggest confession, and then see what you might be able to do to curb the lust in your life.
Have a blessed Monday!
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