What you have in common with a fish…

A friend of mine just returned from fly fishing in Arkansas. As I was reviewing some of the basics with him before his departure it reminded me of this passage in James, and how when it comes to sinful temptation we see what we want to see.

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 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 1:13-15).

With the words, lured and enticed, James uses fishing terminology, and his picture is perfect.

I love to fly fish. In fly-fishing, the presentation of the fly on the water’s surface matters. The finicky trout will not be drawn to a clump of feathers and fur that looks like feathers and fur. That presentation does not awaken his desire to strike. But a clump of feathers and fur that looks like a freshly hatched mayfly resting on the surface of the water will awaken the fish’s desire. If the imitation is good enough, the fish will see what he wants to see. He will strike. Unbeknownst to him, there’s a hook in the imitation, and a hungry fisherman on the other end of the line. Perhaps this is the reason why we speak of those who have given in to addictive sinful behaviors as those who are “hooked.”

True happiness will never be found in desiring the things God has placed off-limits, even though they promise to satisfy. We would do well to remember we are seeing what we want to see. Our desire has morphed the picture. Because our desire is so strong, we believe the thing forbidden is actually the thing that is best for us. We are lured and enticed. And just like the fish we invite death and disaster when we succumb to this temptation.