Are you a flirt? Really weigh your heart and ask yourself the question — “Are you a flirt?” You may be thinking that this question regards your behavior towards those of the opposite sex, but that isn’t quite what I mean. (In terms of your relationships, I hope you are not a flirt unless you are flirting with your own spouse to playfully express your love for one another.) But the kind of flirting I’m talking about is flirting with sin — that’s a little more personal.
The fact of the matter is that we far too often flirt with sin. Sin is like a dark chasm that can so easily swallow us up. Though we have been warned, we are often like mischievous children, recklessly playing near the edge of the chasm, outwardly trying to prove our strength and bravery, yet inwardly seeking to indulge the lusts of our flesh. You know what I mean. . .
Perhaps you have been that person who will speak or e-mail those jokes or stories that don’t necessarily have any explicit words, but are laden with impure innuendo. You like to think you are obeying the Scripture that says, “Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth” (Eph 4:29), but in the name of humor you are tarnishing the reputation of Christ with your choices. You once were flirting with impurity, and now you are propagating it.
Perhaps you are a very informed person who relates well with people, and you genuinely enjoy helping and encouraging others. However, you find it quite easy to use the circumstances and challenges of others as fodder for good conversation. Because you truly care about those other persons, you like to think that talking about them or their children when they are not present is OK. Perhaps you even like to think that more people will “pray” for them if they know their challenges. You may think you are close to the line as regards the sin of gossip, but certainly not crossing it. In reality, what started out as flirting with gossip and pride crossed the line into sin a long time ago.
Perhaps you are a person who has struggled with lust, and maybe even pornography. You have put some safeguards in place and you are trying hard to keep your mind and heart pure. However, you think it is alright to view sultry movies and other media as long as they are not explicitly pornographic. You think it is alright to view lingerie catalogues and racy shows since there is “technically” no nudity. The fact of the matter is that flirting with such things has given birth to full blown adultery in your heart, and you need to take more drastic steps to cut yourself off from temptation.
These are just a few examples of how we can all flirt with sin, but I hope you see the pattern I was trying to establish for you. Flirting with temptation inevitably becomes sin in the heart, and that sin is often born out in one’s actions. As children of God through faith in Christ, we should never flirt with such spiritual disaster; rather, being mindful of our own weakness, we should stay as far from sin and temptation as possible. To that end, let me encourage you with the following.
1. Guard your time with the Lord. Scripture reading and prayer are the sustaining staples of Christianity. They nourish your soul with truth and with the very presence of Christ. They remind you of God’s promises and of the surpassing value of being conformed to Christ. We make ourselves more susceptible to temptation and sin when we fail to pursue Christ as our first priority.
2. Seek and cherish accountability. Whether it comes from your spouse, from an accountability partner, or from your church family, accountability to other Christians who love you is integral to healthy Christianity. As Ephesians 4:25 says, we are members of one another; none of us is an island unto ourselves. Thus, we should welcome the insights and even the loving reproofs that come to us from those who love us.
3. Focus on what will build your spiritual maturity. 1 Corinthians 6:12 says, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” We have freedom in Christ to partake of a great many things, but not all things are profitable. And, depending on our particular weaknesses, many things that we are free to partake of can open up doors to serious temptation. Thus, don’t flirt with what may be lawful, yet unprofitable for you. Focus steadfastly on what will draw you nearer to Christ and increase your joy in holiness!