Tuesday, August 5, 2014

An Attractive Nuisance

There is a term in the insurance industry called an "attractive nuisance." I live next door to one. No, it isn't a good looking but annoying person (although that may qualify as well). It is something that the insurance company deems attractive because it's somehow enticing, but a nuisance because it is a potential claim waiting to happen. For instance, a pool would be considered an attractive nuisance because it might entice the toddler next door to wander over, but that child could drown. As someone in the insurance business explained it to me, "It's like reading a sign that says, 'Wet Paint'...what do we do? We touch it to be sure."

My particular "attractive nuisance" happens to be a vacant house. I thought it was nice to have next door. I kind of like having no neighbors. Attractive it isn't. The yard is overgrown, fallen trees lay haphazardly around the property and the house? Well, let's just say that someone has bought the property and the house is soon to be razed (I never quite understood why a house being demolished would be called razed...seems like a house going up would be more likely to be razed...but I digress...as usual). I suppose it's called an attractive nuisance because it might be an attractive place for vandals, partying teenagers and other neighborhood vagrants. We've actually seen none of those. Still...the insurance companies might say otherwise.

We all have attractive nuisances in our lives, don't we? My attractive nuisance is sugar. All forms. Chocolate. Cookies. Chocolate cookies. Ice cream. Chocolate ice cream cookies. They're all attractive and enticing, yet really quite a nuisance when I keep discovering that my washing machine is actually not shrinking all my clothes, but my body is attracting the nuisance of those extra calories.

But seriously, folks...

Let's look at a spiritual attractive nuisance. Gossip. Slander. Pride. Distorted self-image, both positive and negative. Greed.

In a word...sin. Doing what we ought not do is attractive. Just look at a four-year old. Wanting more is attractive. More money. Bigger house. More vacationing. More spending. Bigger. Better. More. 

It's equally attractive to want to feel better about a situation by talking about the people involved and how they've wronged us or telling someone about someone else's sin, as if just talking about the sin is not sin itself. 

Puffing ourselves up. Deflating ourselves down. It's attractive to feel better about ourselves. It's oddly attractive to some to feel bad about themselves. Both are putting excessive focus on ourselves. 

Isn't that really what the deal is with my sugar infatuation? Giving in to cravings. Wanting what I know I shouldn't have. Wanting what's not good for me. Satisfying my own fleshly desires. 

If we can get to the place where we are so in tune with God (a lifelong journey!), we will realize that all sin really is...is a nuisance...an attractive nuisance. Satan's demons taunt us, tempt us, but really, they're like gnats that constantly fly in our face bothering us and distracting us. If we look at sin that way, it should be so easy to not give in to it, right? Somehow, though, it's not that easy.

An insurance agent might tell you that the way to make an attractive nuisance less desirable is to eliminate the attraction. Clean up the property to make it look lived in. Fence the pool in. Avoid the temptation before it turns into sin. How? Ask a recovering alcoholic. Don't put yourself in a position to sin. Avoid it. If I walk purposefully into an ice cream store, I will buy ice cream. And I most definitely will eat it. But if I make the choice to walk past the ice cream store, I won't go in and I won't buy it and I won't eat it. It might not work every time, but if it works one time, then that's a start. "One day at a time," as they say in AA.

I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate (Rom 7:15).

All of us struggle with sin...with cravings...with "attractive nuisances." Instead of beating ourselves up for the times we cave, why not take a moment to thank God for His grace and his strength each time we succeed? Perhaps even reward ourselves for getting past another hurdle with God's help? Sounds good to me. I think I'll reward myself with a big bowl of chocolate ice cream. See ya!

Blessings Along the Path,

Song of the Day
Hi Strength is Perfect (CeCe Winans)

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