What are my intentions, really?
A subtle glance, a quick comment, a smile or giggle. What are your intentions with these actions?
“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8.
God’s many promises are for those who keep a pure heart. There are many ways by which your heart can become impure but one of the main sources is undoubtedly when it concerns the opposite sex.
Now, in a time where people live controlled by their lusts almost without limits, it has never been as important to remember that Jesus set clearly what the standard for purity is. “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28. Is it then even possible to keep yourself pure? It sounds unattainable. But yet it is not – Jesus was a young, single man and lived up to the standard He preached about.
One of the main ways by which our lusts can be satisfied is by flirting. Flirting is behaving in a certain way with the goal of getting attention from the opposite sex. It is interacting in a way that is impure with someone who isn’t your marriage partner or with someone who is not, according to God’s will, even meant to be your marriage partner. In other words, flirting is a form of adultery no matter how subtle and innocent it may seem.
When we look around us, we see plenty of examples of marriages torn apart because of unfaithfulness between the two partners. How did this happen? Did it happen “overnight” or “by accident?” No, it has most certainly started with impure thoughts and a little bit of flirting.
A craving that’s never satisfied
You can ask yourself: “Why do I wear these specific clothes? Why am I sitting in this way? Why am I talking a bit too much and laughing a bit too loud because they’re around?” There are many ways to flirt, most of which are very subtle – a glance, a smile, a giggle, a flirty remark, a bit of teasing, getting physically a bit too close. Many associate wearing revealing clothing with flirting, but you can also dress in a modest way with the intention of attracting the opposite sex. Is there then a set of rules as to what is counted as flirting? No. It’s a matter of the heart and the thoughts and only you yourself know what your intentions are.
Everyone knows whom they are attracted to. Sometimes there are periods when you feel almost any boy or girl makes your heart skip a beat. And there are other times when you would do anything to have that one specific person notice you.
Flirting may give you a temporary thrill or even satisfaction, but it doesn’t last long. Before long, you’re looking for the next possible opportunity to get attention again. It’s a craving that never gets truly satisfied and leaves you feeling hollow and superficial. God doesn’t intend for us to live in this way, constantly seeking to fulfill our lusts. He wants us to take up a battle for purity in our lives!
In my early youth, God planted in me a desire to take up this battle for purity. Still, especially as a teenager and in my early twenties, I experienced different times where I felt the same as what David writes in Psalm 118:12 when he describes his enemies: “They surrounded me like bees.” Just as when an army of bees come out in a swarm around you, after you have broken into their hive, thought after thought, perhaps hundreds in one day, were coming to me. “Did he notice me?” “Does he find me attractive or fun?” “Does he like me?” “Wouldn’t it be so nice to be together with someone like him?” In fact, it seemed as though I was being tempted constantly. The urge to flirt was very strong, especially toward boys who I thought were physically attractive or had personalities that were compatible with my own.
But, as in war, victory only happens when your enemies are silenced. I knew that there was not a simple way out other than to fight my way through. Was I sometimes tempted to be discouraged? Did I sometimes feel that my flesh was worse than others? Did I sometimes want to give up and choose what I thought was the easy way out? Those thoughts came. But I knew that if I did not take up this battle now, I would grow into my middle-aged and elder years as someone still plagued with the same impure thoughts.
Overcoming the giant – becoming invincible
Of critical importance for me was to be able to separate between temptation and sin. There is nothing wrong with being tempted. There is nothing wrong with the same thought coming hundreds of times in one day. All that is required from my side is that I don’t agree with the temptation. That is victory! Satan would like us to believe that a thought that comes as a temptation is sin, but it is not. He lies! Temptation only becomes sin when desire is conceived: when your mind agrees with it. (James 1:14-15) And if you should happen to behave in a way that you know was impure, don’t give up! Rather, become more determined!
If almost every young person on earth is a slave to this, then do you need some special power? Yes! To be able to overcome this giant, which even the greatest kings and most powerful people have not managed to conquer, takes a power that comes from God. This comes by having the correct weapons. By praying to God in your time of temptation, by being decided and determined that you will not stop until you have peace, by spending time with people who have the same goal as you, by using your time well. You should ask yourself: “What do I read? What do I listen to? What do I watch? How do I use my phone and laptop? If Jesus was sitting beside me during the day, would I use these tools in the same way?” It doesn’t help to want to be pure, if the sources you drink from are impure.
Be faithful in the small details. Every single good decision counts, and will make you more and more invincible.
Purity: A gift you give yourself
Jesus’ standard of purity is not a burdensome rule. Purity is a gift you give yourself. It gives you peace. Instead of running after attention for a lust that is never satisfied and for a competition where millions of people participate but never win, you can be special. You can take up a battle for purity from this moment forward. You can be a hidden treasure, beautiful on the inside, treasured by God who has a perfect plan just for you. I have experienced it. There’s nothing I would give in exchange for that.