Today we have another excerpt from an Amish father’s talk to a youth group and parents in Lancaster County. We last looked at this talk about a month ago, with a segment on cell phones and the internet (the first segment addressed popular music).
In this excerpt the Amishman suggests how one might fight temptation and bad habits by developing character.
As a whole, this talk gives a good picture of the concerns of Amish parents. Some Amish communities are trying to take steps like this, to get to their youth before they get too sucked up into things they’d rather not.
Some Amish don’t face as much of an issue concerning the smartphone and internet. This is Lancaster County, however, where Amish tend to have a closer relationship with a higher level of technology than many.
Reading this talk, I find I quite admire the speaker’s willingness to touch on hard topics, and even get a little personal to make his points. He told me it was not an easy talk to give in front of 150 parents and youth, among them his own children.
An Amish Youth Talk, Part 3: On Temptation & Character
Us as plain people over the years put a lot of effort into staying away from or controlling the telephone, television, radio, videos, CDs and other entertainment of popular culture, and I guess the question I ask is this: How much sense does it make to put all this in your pocket? Especially in an uncontrolled way. At least have some sort of accountability structure. Is it worth the temptation? Think about this and all the dangers.
One thing is certain. It will take strong and good character to guard your heart and minds and keep them undamaged.
But the good news is this. Overcoming temptation and bad habits is what builds character. I would like to touch a little on what character is.
Our character is the sum of our habits. So as our habits are, so is our character. Thinking further our soul is our character along with our minds and emotions and thoughts.
And the remarkable thing is our souls last forever. They go with us into eternity.
It would be easy now to just say to you “Keep the Lord in your heart and make good choices and all will be well.”
But this issue goes deeper.
I believe that the issue is with us and our nature as much as with the things we use and have. Still it is true that if we fill our minds with garbage then garbage is what will come out of us. For from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. In German it says “Denn wes das herz voll ist des gehet der Mund über.”
We often think temptation is all around us but still the Bible says vile things come from the heart. Temptation starts in your mind maybe more than in your circumstances. I think this is why certain things tempt some people more than it does others. Some have one weakness, some another.
The Bible says for from within out of a person’s heart come evil thoughts, immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, eagerness for lustful pleasure, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these vile things come from within you.
I struggle with these as much as anyone else and the reason I am going here is to say to the young people: Your struggle is also our struggle.
This isn’t just about the internet and porn but about all our compulsive behaviors and bad habits. Compulsive behavior and bad habits are of the devil’s best snares.
This includes all our bad habits and addictions to guilty pleasures, smoking, drinking, drugs, unhealthy eating habits, foul language, gossip, lustful thoughts, envy and even self-pity. I am caught in a number of these.
Sometimes we do things anyway even if we know better. Sometimes we are too weak to resist and more often we can’t be told because there is a part of us that wants to anyway. I think of Paul’s words in Romans 7:19 where he says “When I want to do good I don’t, and when I try not to do wrong I do it anyway.” That is a pretty good description of how it goes way too often. In German it says “Denn das gute das ich will, das tue ich nicht Sondern das Böse das ich nicht will, das tue ich.”
Why is this so often true?
There is a continual struggle between the sinful part of our nature which wants to follow our own desires and the good part of our nature which has a longing for God and his peace. We are born this way and made this way.
This is what it means to be created in God’s image. This is also how the Fall of Adam affects us.
The struggle for your soul is fought in your mind between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. And the side we give attention to and feed is the side that wins.
What gets your attention gets you.
There was a theologian in the early church named Augustine who said: The human heart knows no peace until it rests in the Creator.
The question is this: Will the popular culture aspects of the internet help or hinder? The choice is yours.
We can see how important it is to not only resist the sinful but also to fill our minds with good. I don’t want to only thunder and hurl warnings at you. I would also like to suggest encouragement and one thing I would like to suggest is to read the Rules of a Godly Life. You can find it in the Lust-Gartlein and in Meiner Jugend in English. We have no excuse to not involve ourselves in reading this.