WHEN STRONGHOLDS BECOME ENTRENCHED
2 Timothy 2:4
No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier
Once your consideration of a temptation has triggered an emotional response leading to a Plan B choice, you will act upon that choice and own that behavior. You may resent your actions or claim that you are not responsible for what you do. But you are responsible for your actions at this stage because you failed to take a tempting thought captive when it first appeared at the threshold of your mind.
People who study human behavior tell us that if you continue to repeat an act for six weeks, you will form a habit. And if you exercise that habit long enough, a stronghold will be established. Once a stronghold of thought and response is entrenched in your mind, choosing to act contrary to that pattern is extremely difficult.
Like environmental stimulation, a stronghold of the mind can be the result of a brief encounter or a prevailing atmosphere. For example, a woman goes into a deep depression every time she hears a siren sound. It turns out that she was raped 20 years earlier while a siren was wailing in the distance. In the weeks and months after the rape, the sound of a siren triggered traumatic memories. Instead of resolving that conflict, she relived the tragedy in her mind, deepening the emotional scars and locking herself into a thought pattern she cannot seem to break. That’s a stronghold.
Other strongholds are the result of a prevailing pattern of thinking and responding. Imagine, for instance, a nine-year-old boy whose father is an alcoholic. When the father comes home drunk and belligerent every night, the boy is simply scared stiff of him. He scurries out of sight and hides. As the boy continues in his defensive reaction to his hostile alcoholic father, he forms a pattern of behavior. Ten years later, when he faces any kind of hostile behavior, how do you think he will respond? He will run away. His deeply ingrained pattern of thinking and responding has formed a stronghold in his mind.
Prayer: Father, don’t allow the enemy to deceive me into weak-willed actions that dilute my testimony and effectiveness as a believer.