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Recognizing real bears – and learning to not feed them

It had long been his dream to have a pet bear. When he came into his own, he figured his chance had come at last.

He trained that cub with great care. He carried it around with him everywhere—nurturing an understanding . . . familiarity. He was convinced that with enough exposure to humans, he could tame the wild right out of that bear.

As time passed, he forgot the animal’s true identity and came to comfortably view him more as a well-trained pet. So, he let his guard down and allowed the bear free reign.

The man married. Together, they added more pets to the menagerie and eventually started planning a family.

One day they returned home to find the bear had revealed his true nature. Surveying the unexpected scene with great shock and horror, they still found it hard to let go of Bear. The man still believed he could control the bear’s behavior and domesticate it as a friend of the family.

Sound far-fetched?

Or is it?

We fool ourselves into believing some preposterous and dangerous things sometimes, don’t we? We think something is harmless, manageable. All the while, setting ourselves up for a gigantic fall. And putting ourselves at great risk.

I’ve tussled many a bear in my day. I’ve played around with temptations I should have taken far more seriously. You know, that thing you laugh off . . . excuse. Or maybe deny it exists and refuse to deal with it altogether. You try to tell yourself, “If I ignore it (or hide it) it will just go away, right?” Or worse, pridefully think, I can manage the beast within in my own strength. “If I just tried hard enough . . . used the right strategy,” whispers a sly, recurring voice. Then, of course, there’s the approach of measuring it up with other sins: “It’s not as bad as all that…”

Paul penned the question that plagues mankind: “Wretched man that I am, who will deliver me?” He also knew the answer: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

The real lesson we do need to learn is that the God Who continues to work out our salvation is a fierce bear slayer. Intent on maturing and purifying us, He cleanses our minds of the lies we weave and offers to change the desires of our heart—if we but ask. He teaches us that those haunting sins within can be conquered, but only by the power of His Mighty Spirit. He impresses upon us the wisdom to not mess around with bears—which eventually come back to devour us.

What’s your “bear”? That thing you’ve gotten too friendly with?

Give up on trying to make a family pet out of something that belongs out in the deep, dark forest. Better yet—flee from it!

Don’t think for one moment you can train sin to behave—it’s an untamable bear.

Honestly confront it.

Battle it, by the power of the triumphant Spirit—

ever holding to the real hope of living in freedom.

Overcome, bear trainer, live victoriously in the Lord.


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