In Greek mythology, one of the dangers of traveling the seas was the possibility of encountering the Sirens. The Sirens were beautiful creatures who used their seductive voices to try and lure sailors into their dangerous waters to be shipwrecked. Most ship captains were unable to resist the destructive pull of these creatures.
However, in the mythology stories, we learn of two people who were able to resist the Sirens. Their methods were very different and provide us a vivid picture of two contrasting ways we pursue holiness.
Odysseus’ chose the white knuckle approach. Having been warned about the power of the Sirens, he commanded his sailors to place beeswax in their ears and then tie him to a mast. He then ordered them to not untie him, no matter how much he begged. When in earshot of the Sirens, he begged to be released. But they refused, finally letting him go once he was out of earshot of the seductive voices.
Jason also successfully resisted the Sirens, but he had a much different approach. He brought along on his journey Orpheus, who was able to play the lyre quite beautifully. When the Sirens began their seductive song, Orpheus took out his lyre and played more beautiful music—which ended up drowning out the voice of the Sirens. Their seductive power was mitigated by a more beautiful reality.
In our struggle with temptation, we often only use the Odysseus approach. All our energies are focused on how to resist the temptation. Do whatever it takes to build walls of resistance. This approach can at times help us avoid a particular sin—but it relies heavily on external factors. When those external factors are removed, our heart still desires the sin.
Jason’s example provides another approach. The way to say no to one desire is to have in our heart a greater desire. A teenager who loves to sleep in all summer long suddenly begins getting up at the crack of dawn. What happened? Football practice. His desire for sleep was overtaken by a greater desire—to be a part of a winning football team.
What might happen if in our battles with certain sins, we focused not only on resisting the sin but also on stoking in our hearts a greater desire, that of intimacy with Jesus? The melody of His love can offer our hearts way more than any sin ever can.