Matthew 12:43-45 NIV
“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”
My goal in today’s article isn’t to interpret the Biblical passage but perhaps to share a few thoughts.
Are you familiar with this quote from Alan Green Span? “I know you believe that you think you understand what you thought you heard me say, but what you don’t realize is that what you heard is not what I meant.”
In our opening Scripture passage, for me, its message is laid out fairly simple as an illustration of a holistic principle.
Holistic meaning to address the whole person; their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs in a balanced lifestyle.
Ha ha ha often times when spiritual is mentioned we’ll get the ever-famous eye roll and accompanying body language that telegraphs that you’ve lost their attention.
Allow me to share some basic personal types of struggle to help illustrate the spiritual principle in a practical way.
Back in the day, as a younger man or perhaps “youngster” would be more appropriate, I kept getting in trouble over unbridled anger issues. It wouldn’t hardly take anything to set me off. Countless, time after time, I lost opportunity, money, possessions because I didn’t take care of myself.
I ate whenever. I only slept when there was nothing else to do. It took me by surprise when I discovered loneliness was the fuel for my anger. I had a hard time accepting the loneliness suggestion, but the reality was; I could be just as lonely in a room of 10 or 100 people as by myself.
Let me suggest something like smoking, drinking, drugging or gambling.
Perhaps the pressure from finance, family, employment or your simply sick and tired of being sick and tired so you tell yourself “I’m not going to do that anymore.” “No, I’m not interested.” “I can’t afford it.” “Somebody will be mad at me.” “I’ll lose my job.” On and on it can go.
Remember our Scripture passage? Verse 43 — “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man.” Verse 44 — “Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself.”
Here’s my basic point. It’s necessary to fill that void with a positive otherwise we fall back into that same old rut and the old things will rush in on us like a rogue wave. A failed diet is an example. We have to fill that empty space with something positive. If you take an anger management class or perhaps attend one of the many recovery support groups you’ll hear; “HALT” which represents the danger of being too hungry, too angry, too lonely, and too tired.
The idea is to recognize when one or more of those conditions are active. Self-care is self-preservation. “Live well and prosper.”
Rather than telling ourselves, “No” “I won’t” “I don’t want.” Tell yourself a positive. Take a positive action. It’s been my experience and I’ve noticed in the lives of many successful individuals here on the Island; If we take our focus off of ourselves and seek to help others our own problems seem to take care of themselves.
Okay, here’s one of my favorite illustrations:
“Close your eyes and don’t think of a white polar bear. Don’t think of how the polar bear is considered to be the largest bear in North America. Don’t think of a white polar bear. Ready to open your eyes? What did you think about?
A white polar bear!
Ok, let’s try it again, ready?
Now I don’t want you to think of a white polar bear.
Instead, every time you think of a white polar bear force yourself to think of a tiger!
Powerful, beautiful, gracefully silent — TIGER!
Close your eyes…
White polar bear — TIGER!
Open your eyes. what did you think about? A white polar bear of course. But then the tiger took its place. It’s called substitute thinking.
You still thought of the bear, but you didn’t dwell on it because you had the tiger. So when a temptation crosses your mind, say to yourself … POLAR BEAR ALERT and think something else, followed by a positive action. Do something good (learned from Jay Carty).
Remember I had mentioned anger issues?
Every time someone cuts you of in traffic, or fails in some common courtesy you get worked up and perhaps your anger gets out of control and it continues to burn, on and on, everything has your teeth on edge…Ready? Think about this; the person who knowingly or unknowingly offended you hasn’t thought about you all day, probably not even once!
In 1 John 4:1, which starts off with, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.”
Remember, I’m not interpreting the Scripture but the idea of a spiritual principle.
The principle I share from 1 John is to test the spirits for example. The spirit of anger, the spirit of lust. How might you test such things?
Knowing the Scriptures for example as a template of guidance. 2 Timothy 3:16 – “All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the person of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Winter is Coming. My hope is each of us will meet each of our challenges set before us and gain victory after victory.
Perhaps with a holistic lifestyle; self-care, taking care of the whole self — physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We don’t have to do this alone. Kodiak has a host of church congregations/church families. Try one. Try more than one. Try one until you find the one that fits.
Blessings my Friend.