When I was in early elementary school, a friend and I fell victim to a prank. We were tricked into believing something that could in no way really happen. It was an event that as I look back on it, I still wonder how I fell for such a thing. It had to do with a guarantee that a desire would be satisfied. Yet when it was all over, the result was not a feeling of satisfaction, it resulted in embarrassment and anger and left a bad taste in my mouth.
One summer day a bunch of us neighborhood boys were just milling around with nothing really to do. We were, as our grandparents would often say, “being idle.” And as was commonplace to hear, on multiple occasions, “An idle mind is the Devil’s workshop!” This I believe to be true, but at that time I wonder if any of us had a mind to be idle with. We were more like kittens, who could be easily entertained and mesmerized by a dangling string with a yoyo attached to it, then rapidly swept into a wrestling match with multiple participants, all the while having a wooden popsicle stick in your mouth and never choking on it or putting out someone’s eye with it during the instant gladiator match.
Standing by a fence and being as idle-minded as some of us were, a few older boys were thinking and scheming. In North Florida, most grass that grows in yards is called Bahia. As the grass grows it produces long stems with tiny black seeds that are loosely attached to two more stems in a V shape. Grass is traditionally for animals, but here is what happened.
Most convincingly and straight-faced we were told by these older boys that if we put the grass stem in our mouths, loosely holding it with our teeth, it would taste exactly like any candy bar we could possibly imagine. Well, who wouldn’t want a piece of grass to taste like a snickers bar or a payday? Our imaginations ran wild. Perhaps, it would even taste like ice cream, maybe like a Klondike bar! Really, what would you do for a Klondike bar? And just think, if mom said no candy or no ice cream, no big deal. I could, at any time, enjoy the taste of pure delight, what freedom! No wonder my parents kept telling me to stop putting things in my mouth when I was younger, they must have known that I would eventually find out about this and their nutritional control over me would be finished.
I’m not sure if that was the reason for the decision to put the grass in my teeth or the fact that as younger kids, we didn’t want to look uncool by refuting such a “well-known fact”! The only thing was, we would need to close our eyes, and really believe for it to work. Being somewhat hesitant to just trustingly close our eyes and believe that something this incredible was awaiting us we asked, “Are you going to hit me?”, or “Are you going to put something on me?”, the easy answer and very truthful one was, “Of course not.” Then, when I closed my eyes, expecting the revelation of a lifetime, the awesome taste of a snickers bar, the end without the seeds was quickly pulled through my teeth and out the other side of my mouth, leaving all the grass seeds in my teeth and my mouth! Not a very pleasant experience. It left me feeling foolish, embarrassed, and angry. Needless to say, it didn’t taste anything like a candy bar!
There is a lot to be said about why I should have known that grass would never taste like anything other but grass, yet I was still hoodwinked. Why? Because I wanted that grass to taste like a candy bar.
Satan is a master at this type of thing. Not pulling grass seeds through your teeth, but convincing you that what is not godly and pure is ok to do. Watching that show, listening to that song, going to that place. Then, after it is all over, leaves you feeling and looking foolish, embarrassed, angry, and worse than that, cripples your relationship with the Lord and others. Satan is looking to destroy you through whatever means he can!
However, we can’t heap all the blame on the Devil. Our desires, most of the time, are what cause our grief. James wrote.
“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” James 1:14-15
Yet the Devil does play a role. He is very good at taking the idle mind and making it his workshop. All it took in the garden was the thought he planted in Eve’s mind that you'll be able to make your own decisions and that God is holding something back from you that you deserve.
Paul and Peter's letters stressed the fact that the Christian must not be idle-minded. As Christians, we should be filling our minds, our thought life, with the things of God.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” 2 Cor. 10:3-5
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13
Back then I could have just walked away and not had that humiliating experience. As Believers we have the power to resist the devil when he tempts us, we have the power to say no to our own sinful desires. We don’t have to experience the humiliation and consequences of sin.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7