Will this hurt me?
Will this hurt someone I love?
Will this hurt God?
Whenever you are tempted--you have only a few minutes (sometimes only seconds)--to decide how to respond.
In tempting situations, ask yourself the following three questions:
Will this hurt me? The best way to answer this question is BEFORE you face temptation. Write out your "TOP 10 TEMPTATIONS" list -- forbidden foods, gossip triggers, time-wasters, places you shouldn't go (ice cream shops), or ________ (the things that really trip you up). Next to each item on your list, describe HOW the activity will hurt you. Be REALLY honest. If you can articulate HOW doing something will defeat, undermine, demolish, or set YOU backward, you will THINK before you do it.
Will this hurt someone I love? If parents, spouses, dating couples, and family members asked this question before they stepped over the line with anger or other destructive actions, they would spare people they love SO MUCH heartache. For years, I have work with students whose parents get divorced--and believe me, the student often is deeply devastated for many years. Temptations are temporary. Integrity and honor are lasting. When tempted, we are usually making a selfish choice rather than a sacrificial choice. When you ask this question, you put others first. This will put the temptation in perspective.
Will this hurt God? We can hurt God--not only His name and reputation, but our intimacy with Him. Over and over in the Old Testament, God's people hurt him with their idolatry and adultery. Even though God repeatedly sent prophets to explain how much He loved them, the people often rejected Him. In the New Testament, Jesus was equally misunderstood, rejected, and even mocked. We hurt God when we turn to things or people who replace Him as the One true love of our lives. Loving God must be reciprocal in our lives. If you'll ask yourself, "How will this action make God feel," you should have an immediate sense if you should do it or not. A great rule is: "When in doubt, don't."