By Alisha Headley, Crosswalk.com
It's hard to be a woman in today's culture. We are inundated with information and templates of what an accepted body image should look like or what lifestyle we should be living to fit in with the 'jones.' We are thrown all kinds of ads as we scroll through social media to see all the latest fashion trends, things, or people we need in order to live that fulfilling life that other women seem to be lavishly living. We have more options online than ever before at our fingertips to give us a blueprint of how we think things are 'supposed to be.' We have so much information thrown at us in a single day that's it's almost overwhelming not to be thrown all kinds of temptation and pulled in all sorts of directions. Studies show that, on any given day, we can think up to 60,000 thoughts. If we are not careful, some of those thoughts can be thoughts to tempt us away from walking in God's purpose – His wonderful, blessed and favored purpose.
It's important to understand that with women's struggle with temptation comes the potential for sin and even death. Not saying the death of a person, but it could be the death of a relationship, a job, or the peace of mind you once had. And it all begins with a seed of temptation. James 1:21-22 says, "after a desire is conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it's full-grown, gives birth to death. Don't be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters…therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent…".
As women, let's be aware of the temptations we most commonly struggle with so that we can examine our hearts and lives as to whether they are beginning to give birth to any sin. Here are five temptations women especially struggle with in today's world.
"Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won't need to compare yourself to anyone else." (Galatians 6:4)
It takes more work to compare yourself to other women than to solely focus on God and His specific direction for you and only you. Comparison can consume us. Theodore Roosevelt once said, "comparison is the thief of joy." Comparison is exhausting. Trying to become someone that you are not and that you never will be – that's exhausting. Trying to run and catch up with someone in their lane when you never actually will because it's their lane and not yours – that's exhausting.
What if you have yet to walk into your own calling because you are so focused on walking in someone else's calling? If we turn our focus on God and what He has for us, there will be no need to compare ourselves to others.
Let's not miss the mark by falling into the temptation of comparison. Delete apps or people you may follow on social media, causing the seeds of temptation to enter your mind. Begin to turn your focus on God's purpose for your life by fixing your mind "on things above, not on things of this world." (Colossians 3:2)
"A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones." (Proverbs 14:30)
It's difficult to make sure we keep our hearts and minds away from jealousy because it can cause rottenness to our bones. We all know what it's like to live life without peace, and when jealousy is in our lives, we have no peace. Jealousy focuses on what we don't have. This is often a temptation thrown at women through social media platforms. We see others posting about their perfect husband, their perfect vacation, and their perfect kids. We then look to our own lives and realize we don't have what they have while we are in the middle of fighting with our husbands, have no vacations planned, and our kids are acting out.
Another Scripture states that jealousy co-exists with every evil thing. James 3:16 says, "for wherever there is jealous and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind." An example of this is in the Old Testament in Genesis 4:1-16, where Cain became so jealous of his brother Able that he murdered him. You see, we are told that "murder begins in the heart." (Matthew 15:19) The verse in its entirety says, "from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander."
For Cain to have murdered his very own brother began with the temptation and seed of jealousy that birthed into sin, and in this case, actual death. As women, we need to be aware of any jealous thoughts or perhaps people we are jealous of in our lives and ask the Lord for direction and how to handle that person. And it might be that God will tell you to take a step back from the friendship or social media for some time. He will guide you as you ask for His wisdom to eliminate any temptation leading to jealousy in your life.
"…for I have learned to be content in whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret to being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:11-13)
With the temptation of jealousy often comes the temptation of discontentment. When we are jealous of what others have, we become discontent with what we have or don't have. The allure of dissatisfaction is all around us. Our waistlines are not a particular measurement, our houses are too small, and we can't find a husband or a husband that loves us as someone else's does. We can't afford that name-brand bag or a nice car. Perhaps we can't have children, or our children act out every time you take them around someone else's seemingly perfect child.
We have discontentment rather than peace due to our lack of gratitude. To avoid the temptation of discontentment, we must turn our hearts to gratitude. Philippians 4:6-7 says that "with thanksgiving [gratitude]…the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
When you become content and grateful in your own situation and your own life, God transforms your heart, replaces those thoughts of discontentment, and overwhelms you with a peace that far surpasses anything about your circumstances. So, let's learn to be content with anything, gratefully unaffected by the circumstances around us, as we remove the temptation of discontentment and begin living a life full of peace.
Photo credit: ©Pexels/Ismael Sanchez
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes…" (Proverbs 4:5-7)
A common temptation women struggle with is the need to control. It usually starts with worry, which leads us to want to control our situation, so we no longer worry. Maybe we are worried about our children or a loved one making decisions that we know will lead to destruction and a path we don't want them to head down. Or perhaps we are worried that our husbands won't make the best decision for our finances or future, so we step in and make decisions without him with a heart that is not submissive and trusting. Maybe the Lord is telling us to wait on something in our lives, but we feel as if we know what's best, so we step in front of God, who is in the middle of working things out for us.
We worry, and then we step in to try to control God. Worry and control are the opposite of trust. Where in your life are you tempted to control? Or who in your life are you controlling? Rather than handing it all over the hands of our mighty God? For it is in Him, "all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)
As women, we must be aware of any temptation to control because we could be missing out or jumping ahead of God's great purpose. We do this by daily surrendering our ways, thoughts, and ideas of what God could do to fix our situation. And instead, turn that desire to control into a trust in Him, for "His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)
5. Gossip and Self-Doubt
"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The words of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of the fools pours forth foolishness." (Proverbs 15:1-2)
One of Satan's greatest temptations amongst women is gossip. A woman can reflect God's Kingdom by her words spoken. Wise words are gracious, but foolish words are damaging. Through our words, we can bring others to the Lord.
Why then do we as women love to gossip? Perhaps it's from boredom from our own lives, and it's entertainment to focus on the story of others' lives. Maybe we refuse to see the "plank in our own eye" (Matthew 7:3-5) as it makes us feel better about ourselves and our situation to notice the "speck of sawdust" in others' eyes. Most of our gossiping is due to the core of our self-doubt and worth. Because we don't love ourselves fully, we want to hate on others, and it somehow makes us feel good about ourselves in that moment of gossip. Remember though – "…gossip can separate the closest of friends." (Proverbs 16:28)
I don't know about you, but I want to be a wise woman in today's foolish world. I want to be a woman that draws others to Christ by being wise and gracious with my words. As women, we need to be aware of the temptation of gossip because it's all around us and instead be women who draw other women closer to the Lord with our gracious, loving words.