I have made an astonishing discovery: the water fountain at Emmett’s community center has magical qualities. I’m not sure exactly what those qualities are, but the water itself appears to have an irresistible appeal.

Here’s how I’ve come to know this startling fact: two nights a week, my son has Karate class at the community center. During that hour, no student may drink from the fountain. When the class is over and the final “domo arigato” is spoken … well, let’s just say you wouldn’t want to stand in the way of those thirsty Karate students. They literally stampede.

So does that fountain produce remarkably tasty water? It’s just city water like any other faucet in town. Or perhaps the kids are just especially thirsty after an hour of hard physical work.

Here’s my guess: the water is forbidden, and is therefore more desirable. Throughout the hour, the kids will glance longingly at the fountain and sometimes one will even ask for a drink – a request that is always denied. When the session is over there’s only one goal on every student’s mind: Karate Water.

I’m suddenly realizing why my campaign to get my kids to like green vegetables has backfired. I should have just forbidden spinach all along.

Why are we tempted by the forbidden? If there’s ice cream in my freezer, I can’t stop thinking about it – even though I’m not supposed to be eating ice cream. Or, perhaps, that is the reason I can’t stop thinking about it.

James puts it this way: “…each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (1:14-15)

Temptation is specialized. I may be more inclined toward, say, dishonesty than you – while you may struggle more with gossip or anger or lust. Knowing this about ourselves may be the first step toward overcoming temptation.

C.S. Lewis writes: “Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is… A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.” (Mere Christianity)

I want to exercise my “temptation resistance muscles.” When I’m faced with an impulse that is difficult to endure, I want to stand firm and remind myself that, as James writes, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)

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5 Responses to KARATE WATER

  1. Jason says:

    I don’t know either.

    I’m not sure if making good things forbidden makes them enticing.

    Do kids in China huddle around a Bible in a dark attic like kids in America huddle around a ouija board?
    (or used to anyway)

    Did Russia have an influx of people looking for Scripture when it was outlawed?

    If we truly did make broccoli forbidden would that sweeten its taste?
    (I have serious doubts about the possibility of that)

    I really don’t know.

  2. Jason says:

    The reason I’m tempted by the forbidden is because the forbidden is fun for me or the forbidden makes me feel temporarily “good” things.

    In the moments of temptation I ignore the fact that the price of indulging the forbidden is very high.

    The forbidden is such in order to protect us.

    The water is not allowed in karate to protect the students. First, not having water during practice prevents over-hydration but, more importantly, not having water teaches the students that their body can survive without what their brain desperately “needs.”

    Similarly, things are forbidden to us by God to protect us.

    The moral and immoral are inscribed on our souls and, sadly, naming vegetables “forbidden” won’t make them so and the same is true of virtue. (I wish we could though!)

    I can see it now…

    “Don’t touch that Book!! It’s forbidden!”

    …and then leave it on the counter.

    (egads! didn’t mean to write a book)

    • Scott Riggan says:

      That’s true – when I’m tempted by ice cream it’s not just because it’s forbidden – it’s because I really like it. God has forbidden certain things for our protection, I agree. But I do think that when something is forbidden it can become even more enticing to us. A result of the fall? I dunno.

  3. Jeremy says:

    The Lewis quote doesn’t make sense. Everyone’s tempted by different things, which is your point right? So how does Lewis account for that in his statement? He just assumes it’s the same for everyone. I think some people aren’t tempted as much as others. I like your idea of strengthening “temptation resistance muscles” though.

  4. Herschel says:

    This is good stuff. I am going to read this to my men’s group–we are studying temptation and the consequences of sin.

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