When I was in my twenties, a friend of mine gave me an inflatable bop bag. You may have had one as a child—a three-foot plastic boxing toy on a rounded base, made to bounce back up every time someone punched it and knocked it over. No matter how many times it was knocked to the ground, it would bounce right back—still smiling. One day, my nephew, who was about a year old at the time, visited my apartment and, seeing the familiar face of the cartoon character printed on the bop bag, ran over to give it a hug. Much to his surprise, the toy—which was meant to be hit, not hugged—tumbled to the ground, taking him along with it. The Bible tells us that we are to “put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). What makes life difficult is that, however often we strike with what we think is a death blow, our old nature—like that bop bag—just pops right back up again. It’s frustrating to see our old attitudes popping back into our lives again after we think that we had put them to death once and for all. The reality is that we will have to deal with our old nature for as long as we’re alive on earth. That nature is resilient, so we must be relentless and keep on punching. The mistake that Christians too often make is letting their frustrations get the best of them and, instead of fighting, they run like my nephew and embrace those sinful attitudes. The outcome is the same: They fall crashing to the ground. Never give up! “Fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience!” (1 Timothy 1:18-19).
Otis A. Fortenberry