Do you know what affairs of the heart are? Do you know how they start? How does a sincere Christian sometimes end up there? What can you do to avoid them?
Often, an affair is equated with some kind of unfaithfulness – like cheating on your spouse. But that is only one type of affair.
Affairs of the heart involve anything that becomes more important to you than God and His ways. It could be another person, a particular thing, an experience, a dream or goal, a habit, a self-indulgence, etc. It can even be a good thing that becomes too important in your life.
If you think you are exempt from ever having an affair of the heart, you are fooling yourself. You are not an exception since you have the same human nature common to all people. So how can you prevent it?
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
How do unfortunate things happen? Things like:
- A betrayed and broken friendship?
- A marriage violated?
- A diet cheated on?
- A lazy habit indulged?
- A self-exalted pattern reinforced?
Often, it’s because you “went there.” Just a tiny bit. (Sometimes someone else “went there” and you suffer in the wake of their choices.)
Much better to not flirt, hang around, grab a cheap self-focused moment. Better still – keep pure in all things, from marriage to healthy diet to time management to words spoken, etc. Resolve to not “go there” – not even a tiny bit – in your heart.
It’s so tempting to live with excuses. Here are some common ways people do that (there are many more):
- I didn’t really go all the way. Just dipped my finger in it. Just flirted around the edges a bit. So, I’m not guilty of it. (Denial)
- I didn’t really go all the way. Just dipped my finger in it. Just flirted around the edges a bit. But I actually did dip my finger in and I did flirt. So, I basically already participated. Since I’m already guilty, I might as well give myself fully to it. (Justification)
Isn’t it interesting that the beginning argument for each opposing process is exactly the same?
The missing ingredient in both scenarios is self-sought accountability. This absence is why affairs of the heart are so common. Until you build stable patterns to actually avoid unhealthy indulgences, the best deterrent is self-reporting. Mature character doesn’t ask someone else to hold you accountable. You should be willing to do the hard work of reporting to someone willing to receive. That brings strength and reinforcement to your decisions.
If you are not strong enough for self-reporting yet, start where you are. Ask the Lord to provide someone to help you start a partnership of accountability. BUT – recognize this is a “step” until you grow into self-reporting and eventually into self-accountability where you rarely need to self-report.
Just because you don’t pursue accountability or don’t get caught, please don’t make the mistake of thinking you are getting away with your choices. God sees all things – from your heart out.
A helpful hack to side-step affairs of the heart is to put quality, alternate options into place. Once you realize the temptation in your heart, proactively replace it with a better choice. That takes discipline and commitment. With practice, it does get easier. It’s strategic to substitute a less admirable choice with a worthwhile one.
ACTION STEPS TO HELP
- Stay free from things that tempt, catch, trick, and bind you.
- Don’t love temporary pleasures, resources, and experiences.
- Be content with what you have.
- Choose accountability.
- Prepare alternate options ahead of time.
- Trust God completely for all your needs.
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Article content developed from Heb. 13: 4-6