In Greek mythology, the island of Sirens was where beautiful temptresses ensnared passing sailors with their sweet songs. The music led the men to the shore where they were shipwrecked and destroyed.
Odysseus ordered his men to plug their ears with beeswax, but being curious and to avoid being tempted, he instructed them to bind him to the mast. Upon hearing the song of the Sirens, Odysseus commanded his crew to release him, but they refused and bound him tighter.
Jason of the Argonauts, on the other hand, hired a skilled musician to play a tune as his ship sailed within earshot of Sirens. His boat floated by with the crew unaffected by the alluring tunes.
They enjoyed a better song.
Many of us know that we are helplessly tempted by certain bad behaviours, even though we may be well-aware how destructive they are. We wish we could quit smoking, or stop doing drugs; give up the bottle or stop having meaningless sex. Maybe we just can't control our temper - or our spiteful tongue - even though we see the damage caused, or we wish we could break our addiction to pornography and lustful thoughts, or time-wasting computer games.
We know those things could shipwreck our lives, friendships, marriages or health – and yet we seem helpless to stop.
Whatever our vice is – and none of us is immune from temptation – let us take a lesson from Greek mythology and rather than try harder, restricting ourselves in all sorts of ways and tying ourselves in knots, let's attune our ears to a better song.
When we hear the God of the Universe rejoice over us (Zephaniah 3:17) with a song of mercy, forgiveness, redemption and love, then we will become deaf to the paltry pleasures of this world.
As academic C.S. Lewis famously wrote: "It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
Open a Bible and read there the bars of a better and infinitely more winsome melody.•