By Carl Thomas
If you are a guy and have been involved in some sort of accountability group (like an online small group), no doubt the subject of “lust” has come up. In my group on Wednesday mornings we talk about this often.
Usually the conversation focuses on 3 things:
1. What is lust?
2. How do I not lust?
3. What do I do when I lust?
All 3 of these questions could make for their own post, but for the sake of brevity I rather just focus on the second: How do I not lust? Or, more specifically, How do I look and NOT lust?
But before I do I would like to clarify what lust is and isn’t:
Lust IS NOT looking.
I talked about that in this post.
Lust is letting your mind wander to sexual thoughts AFTER looking.
You see, lust is not this thing that just happens.
It’s not spontaneous.
It’s not random.
It’s in many ways organic.
And it has its own lifecycle.
So when you or I look at an attractive person, we aren’t lusting… but it’s at that moment when the lifecycle can start to unfold.
So, with that being said, here are 3 things you can do to make sure your looks don’t turn into lust (and no, I’m not going the whole “bounce your eyes” route either):
1) Count your “looks.” Around here at XXXchurch, we have a saying:
Look once, you’re human; look twice, you’re a man; look three times, you just disrespected your wife.
Now before you get all legalistic, realize that we don’t really boil lust down to the exact number of times you “look.” But the point here is simple; if you keep glancing and looking, chances are you aren’t doing it because you admire that individual for their personality. Most likely you’re continuing the looks because you get some sort of pleasure from what you see.
Simply put, this is a discipline and it takes practice. But if you are conscious of how many times you eye up someone, you’ll also be more aware of the when the lust monster starts knocking at your door.
2) Follow up your look with an action. Okay, so to be clear, not ANY action will do. There are, of course, some actions that would be really inappropriate or maybe even land you in jail.
What I’m talking about is more of a spiritual thing. When you see that “hot” lady jogging by in her form-fitting shorts and top, don’t just look and let your thoughts get taken over by something unhealthy. Be more intentional. This is what the Bible means when it says to take your thoughts captive.
Maybe pray for her (and not because she’s some sort of “Jezebel” wearing tight clothes—she probably isn’t). Or think about how that woman is someone’s daughter or wife and deserves respect, not objectification. Or just recognize that a moment of decision has arrived and you are deciding NOT to lust but rather to think about something else.
Remember, lust has to grow. You can kill that growth with some solid intentionality.
3) Give glory to God. What? Wait a minute? Give glory to God for the “hot” jogger I just saw?
The Bible tells us to glorify God in all things and give him glory for all things.
You glorify God for what happened in church on Sunday.
You glorify God for the promotion you just got.
You glorify God for the beautiful sunset you just witnessed.
And yes, you can glorify God for creating the beautiful jogger who just ran by.
Don’t be a legalistic tool and think it’s impossible to see an attractive person and appreciate their beauty without being some sort of perv. You can.
Remember … looking is not lusting. Lust doesn’t just happen; it’s cultivated.
Next time you see someone who hits a “10” on your hotness scale, take a minute and say, “Thank you God for creating that person.” Then, move along and continue with your day.
I hear so many Christians bemoan about lust and how visual distractions are all around them.
It’s true; you will always see beautiful people. Sometimes wearing clothes that leave less to the imagination. But remember:
Lusting isn’t inevitable. Lust is a choice.
You can stop lust by killing it at the root.
So next time you see someone who’s looking good, remember these three steps:
1. Count the looks.
2. Be intentional with your thoughts
3. Say “Thank you Jesus!”
If you do these 3 things and go about your day, you will halt lust in its tracks. Because the “battle of lust” begins where it dies … in your mind.