PASTOR'S PEN: Stop scratching
For the last two weeks I’ve had poison ivy and though it seems to be on the downslope, there is one thing that continues – the itching. It hasn’t been terrible for me, but you can’t really put poison ivy on the shelf to escape. You have to deal with the itching. You need self-discipline. You can scratch it, and though that provides a few seconds of relief; it actually makes you want to scratch even more. I don’t like the itching. There are, however a few ways to calm it.
- Anti-itch gel. There are creams and gels, but the gel seems to work the best with a kind of cooling sensation.
- Cool showers. I’m a hot shower person, even in the summer. But hot water seems to make the itching even worse. Cool showers help quite a bit.
- Ice packs. Especially at night when the itching was between my fingers those flexible ice-packs gave some relief.
- Keep busy. This was the best solution by far. When I was busy doing other things, keeping my mind and body occupied, I didn’t notice the itching nearly as much.
My dealings with poison ivy over the last few weeks made me think of sin, especially sins of the mind, like lust. Sins like those are very difficult to overcome. You can’t simply avoid your mind. It’s with you everywhere you go, like poison ivy on your skin. And, like poison ivy, you just want to scratch it to get it over with. James tells us that “each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire…” (James 1:14). Lust and sin is something inside that we can’t escape. Many say, “Just scratch it. It’s part of you. Go ahead and give in.” But giving in won’t make it go away. It makes the lustful sin even worse. So what can you do?
God has provided some “anti-itch” tools for you and I. First, is Jesus Christ. Accepting Christ as Lord and Savior makes you into a “new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” Paul also says that Christ “…died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5:15, 17) We no longer live for our lusts, but for our Lord. He also provides a few other items:
- God’s Spirit for strength and comfort (Ephesians 3:16).
- God’s Word, the Bible, for guidance and conviction (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
- God’s Church for encouragement and rebuke (Hebrews 10:24-25).
These anit-itch items need to be part of our lives. The anti-itch gel in my bathroom does no good sitting in the bottle. I have to take it out and put it on the poison ivy rash. You must do the same. Pray for God’s guidance, chew on God’s Word throughout the day and get involved with God’s people.
Last of all; stay busy. Stay busy working so you can give to others more and stay busy serving others so you can develop a heart of compassion (Ephesians 4:28, John 13:16-17). Your lustful rash will go from wanting to satisfy your own itch to seeking out how to help others in their time of need. Serving others – now that’s the type of life Christ lived and the life He desires for you to live as well (John 13:16-17).