A child of the 1980’s, I was taught growing up that I was special … just like everyone else. We are each unique individuals. Which, on it’s face, is true. This idea, however, can be taken to the extreme, when we start to think that we are supremely different from everyone else. “Nobody can understand me, what I’m going through. Nobody can possibly relate.” This isn’t just teen angst, it carries on into our adult lives as well.
For Christians, we begin to think that no one struggles with sin the way we do. Whatever our problem is, we imagine that we fight with it more than anyone else. Everyone has an easier time with lust/gluttony/language/greed/drugs/depression/anger/etc. This thinking can lead to us giving in, thinking that since we’re tempted worse than others, we have a different standard. Paul warns us against this very idea (1 Cor 10:13):
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.
Those thoughts that you’re having, that sin that you’re dealing with … it’s not just you.
And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
It may seem impossible, but there’s always a way out. Often, the way out is never getting in to the situation in the first place. Once we have identified problem areas in our lives, the first thing to do is stop putting ourselves in situations where the temptation can occur. That might mean changing fundamental aspects of our lives, but God helps, and it’s all part of the restorative work that God begins when we accept him into our lives.
When we sin, we usually know full well what we’re doing, and that we shouldn’t be doing it. We justify it to ourselves, making it acceptable, or a just-this-once execption. We need God’s help, and when we’re tempted, we should ask him for it. If we truly realize our problems, if we sincerely repent, and if we honestly attempt to overcome our sin, God is faithful, and will stand with us.