Everyone has a weakness. Everyone is prone to seek comfort in something that isn’t the Comforter (God). Whether it’s alcohol, sex, work, entertainment or porn, humans turn to things that give them a taste of transcendence, but are not transcendent. That’s how addictions begin. One keeps returning to something that once gave them a feeling of eternity, but is not eternal. The only cure for our earthly addictions — our longing after the transcendent and eternal — is the transcendent and eternal God.
My addiction is food — especially, sweets. As an adolescent, I topped out at 250 pounds in the 8th grade. When I’m tired, lonely, or bored, I have to focus — not to — find comfort in overeating. My desire is to find my comfort only in the Comforter; but as a sin-prone human, it’s difficult for me to do so alone. That’s where my friends come in.
Right now, I am on an eating plan called “21 Day Fix.” I’m not doing it alone. I have 2 other brothers who have taken on the challenge with me. We keep each other accountable to the commitment we have made. We encourage each other and challenge each other when we fall short. It’s not a condemning judgmental kind of accountability, it’s the strengthening kind. AND it’s so much easier to do alongside of them, than solo. I have lost 6 pounds (of fat-weight) thus far. I feel so good and have so much more energy since starting the plan. I have been successful, because they have had my back.
If you’ve ever caught the movie 300, you have gotten a taste of what it means to get someone’s back. 300 is a Hollywood rendition of the famous real-life Battle of Thermopylae fought in 480 B.C. If you’re not familiar with the tale, then let me fill you in. The king of Persia, Xerxes, spent nearly half a decade gathering supplies and soldiers from the far reaches of his Persian Empire. The Greek Historian, Herodotus, put the number at 2.6 million soldiers. (Modern historians believe Herodotus was exaggerating and estimate Xerxes gathered approximately 200,000 soldiers — nonetheless, an army of unprecedented size.) Xerxes’ goal was to totally subdue Greece. Leonidas, the Spartan king, took 300 of his soldiers, joining forces with about 7,000 other Greek warriors, to halt the invading Persian army. (Sparta was a city-state in Greece.)
After a Greek traitor, named Ephialtes, showed the Persians a path that allowed the invaders to surround the Spartans and the other Greek forces, King Leonidas ordered the majority of the army to escape so they could live to fight the Persians another day. The 300 Spartans (joined by some Thespiae warriors) took on the whole Persian army! Though eventually the vast hoards of Persian troops defeated the 300 Spartans, the Battle of Thermopylae coupled with the Battle of Salamis, allowed the Greeks to ward off the Persian invasion. Because they laid down their life, they saved their people, their nation and democracy from tyrannical invasion. These 300 Spartans were so committed to their kingdom and each other they were willing to cover each other’s backs — even unto death.
Do you have friends who have your back or are you doing life (or ministry) alone. Do you have a few friends you can say anything too and not be judged? You must have relationships like these or when the enemy targets your weakness, you will be defeated.
Ecclesiastes says, “By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped” (4:12).
Grow: (1 minute exercise)
Your mission is to find a Leonidas with whom to fight alongside. Find a friend who you can open up to about your struggles or temptations. (Sometimes just sharing your battles can set you totally free.) Now I want to challenge you to pray about who this person (or persons) should be. Whoever you share your struggles with must be someone you trust and someone who can keep your struggles confidential. Your challenge is to find one or two people with whom you can fight. Open up to that person(s) and let them open up to you. Take a few minutes now to pray and ask God whom that person or persons might be. I have included a prayer below. You can use it as a guide if you would like:
Dear Heavenly Father, I love you and want to live wholeheartedly for you. You’ve told us that there is strength in numbers. Please bring me a friend with whom I can fight alongside. Please bring a trustworthy person I can share my heart with and help me to be a trustworthy person as well. Would you show me who that person is? I want to live for you and would love someone to cover my back as I cover theirs. Thank you so much, in Jesus name, amen.
Write down any friends that come to mind.
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