So when I read St. Paul's advice in 1 Thessalonians 5:19, "Don't quench the spirit," that image is part of the way I think about this. And I have definitely failed to heed this advice more times than I want to consider.
I have argued with myself that something is "not that bad," "really OK because I want it," "won't really hurt any body that much." and other self-justification that eventually actually sets the hairs on the back of my neck to twitching because I know that if I am arguing with myself about doing something I'm probably in full-blown self-denial. Otherwise why am I arguing with myself rather than setting out the the pros and cons in respective columns and counting the cost, both in dollars and opportunity and considering various possible outcomes. Now see, when I think seriously about things I rarely make the whopping, life-shattering, soul-bruising, family-damaging disastrous choices that I am trying to justify with my self-arguing, selfish self. And when I am wise enough to pray through the process and talk with a trusted, mature Christians adviser, well. I don't remember a single time where I was left feeling like a horrible person, which is how I feel when I keep on the self-will-run-riot road to disaster.
I believe St. Paul's advice is really about this: God loves us and longs for us to avoid doing damage to ourselves and those we love. God longs for God's children to embrace the purpose for which they were created and to enjoy their personal highest good. God does not tempt, withhold assistance, or demand a bounty for God's love and forgiveness. God does not play any kind of games with God's beloved and cherished child...that is me and you, my sister.
So I am committed to remembering Paul's wise advice: I will actively seek the guidance and Will of God. I will laugh with well deserved derision when I find myself trying to talk myself into doing something that in my heart of hearts I know is not in my own best interest, however much I may selfishly want it. I will rejoice that God is always lifting me up and offering me wisdom and, even when I slip up and fall down, God is always right where I am, nudging and prodding me back toward my true life, the life for which I was created, my purpose which fulfills me completely.
God of Wisdom, Light and Truth, let me be wise, embrace the light and seek truth in all my relationships: with You firstly and with family of birth and choice, and friends and coworkers, church family and strangers I meet , and each and every and all people with whom I have any sort of connection that I might do good rather than harm, grow in love rather than shrink in hate and trust You completely at all times, in all places and in every circumstance. AMEN