PRINCIPLE: “When the sweet things of life appeal, remember the surgery.”
Our “grand-dog” Moby has been living with us. He’s a cute, loving, adorable dog. He recently taught me a lesson. Early in the week my wife, while working in the kitchen, dropped some corn cob holders. They were those miniature yellow plastic corn cobs with two prongs sticking out the end that stick in the cob to help hold the cob while eating the corn. When she dropped them Moby, thinking it might be food that fell to the floor, quickly scurried over and sniffed – but smelling nothing, did nothing. Later in the week we were eating corn for supper, and one of those same holders fell to the floor. Moby, already seated under the table and ready to pounce on any scrap of food, lunged over to it and snatched it up. The reactions of the adults around the table were instantaneous, but not quick enough. Moby had swallowed the holder – and he seemed none the worse for it. But we all knew action was needed – and, long story short, it took emergency surgery to remove it. Moby paid a price for his insatiable, uncontrolled appetite (as did the humans who foot the bill!)
As we reflected on what happened, one of our conclusions was that the same corn cob holder, which earlier in the week was not appealing, had become appealing because of location and scent. Since it was under the table Moby naturally assumed whatever fell was food; and since the holder was ‘flavored’ with butter and salt, it had an appealing scent. It made me think of why Eve ate of the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:6): “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” The Apostle John taught the same truth (1 John 2:16): “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.”
Let’s face it – it’s the sweet things of life that tempt us. We are drawn to those things that please our flesh, or are titillating and exciting to our senses, or which make us feel superior. That’s why manufacturers, producers, and sellers spend so much money designing ads that appeal to our flesh, our senses, and our egos. It’s why games and films are designed and marketed in the same spirit. The devil knows just how to sweeten the pot with all kinds of butter and salt. He knows that all it takes is one bite. So Eve and Adam ate the fruit. And we all know what happened when eve ate the fruit! God performed some radical surgery on her and Adam’s life. “When the sweet things of life appeal, remember the surgery.” And John said what comes from the world will never last because God will excise it: “The world and its desires pass away…” “When the sweet things of life appeal, remember the surgery.”
We would love to teach Moby this principle. We wish he could make the connection between his painful surgery and the corn holders – but we’re pretty sure he’ll ever understand. So we are doing our best to remove or limit the appeal; now we eat the corn without the holders! The truth is butter and salt are tempting – but only lead to radical surgery. And we, like Moby, often fail to make the connection and go through the painful surgery. Yet knowing we can’t remove all the tempting appeals that bombard us every day, we can limit their appeal. “When the sweet things of life appeal, remember the surgery.” John, in fact, provided the preventative prescription – “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” The next time the butter and salt look and smell so good, the next time your flesh, sense, or ego are titillated, remember – “When the sweet things of life appeal, remember the surgery.” Take a little preventative medicine – do the will of God.