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Gratitude: A Key Strategy To Defeat Lust

Lust and sexual temptation, represented by a dragon which must be slain..
Lust is often portrayed as a mystical dragon that must be slain.

DJ Khaled is known for a lot of things. Music, jet skis, being the father of Assad; simple, and sometimes simplistic, life advice; shouting “we da best” on tracks; and numerous awards, including a Grammy. However, there is a current that goes through everything that he does, and that current is gratitude. I used to follow Khaled on Snapchat. Aside from his lavish lifestyle, two things stood out to me the most; 1-) how he would always build up his kids Assad and Aalam with words of affirmation; and 2-) how he was constantly expressing gratitude for cooked food, the weather, his family, and possessions. They say a lot of people with means become desensitized to their good fortune and develop an entitled mindset. Evidently, that never happened to Khaled.

DJ Khaled practicing gratitude..
DJ Khaled, author of “Thankful” and “I’m So Grateful,” is known for his profuse expressions of gratitude on social media.

Without exception, every person I interviewed who described living a joyful life or described themselves as joyful actively practiced gratitude and attributed their joyfulness to that practice.

Brené Brown

Gratitude seems to be what separates people who are happy from those who are not, independent of external markers traditionally associated with a good life–family, work, money, etc. However, gratitude isn’t some modern fad in pop psychology that people with too much free time on their hands like to talk about. Gratitude has ancient roots, certainly in the Biblical tradition, where it is communicated as a divine command, and as a strategy to defeat lust and other vicious behaviors. More on that later.

The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.

Sun Tzu

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

James 1:14

Lust, like greed, is a desire to have more than what we currently have and are rightly entitled to. Some people attribute temptation to the environment, and it certainly can be a source. However, discontentment is an even bigger contributing factor. When we are discontent, we will seek and find temptation in places where you would least expect it. On the other hand, when we regularly practice gratitude, it proves difficult to draw us away. The compulsion to get more, with little to no regard for the consequences, diminishes, and we are tempted less frequently and less intensely.

If discontentment is the mother of a thousand vices, then gratitude is their kryptonite.

Gratitude as an Alternative to Lust, Greed, a d Obscenity

Take Ephesians 5:3-4, for example, where the defensive command not to do certain things–including lust–is followed by the offensive command to practice gratitude.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

Ephesians 5:3-4

I remember a guy on a forum asked, “We know what is WRONG to do, but what is RIGHT?” My gut response was, “gratitude.” The beautiful thing about gratitude is that we can practice it at all times, even when we are not actively being tempted. In 7 Offensive Weapons To Defeat Lust, I list gratitude as weapon #4. It just as well could have been #1.

To be sure, there are grateful people whose lives are characterized by vice, rather than integrity. However, that is because they value different things than we do. When they engage in vice, there is no conflict in their own mind about what is going on. On the other hand, grateful people who value things like sexual integrity are capable of achieving it. That is because gratitude removes some of the inner conflict that keeps us from doing what we know is right.

Finally, a common misconception is that grateful people lack ambition to accomplish things in life. Obviously, that is not the case in reality. People like DJ Khaled and Gary Vee are evidently some of the most grateful and ambitious people alive. There is a saying “Content but never satisfied,” that captures having a healthy balance between the two.

What often does happen when someone becomes more grateful is that their motivation evolves, not be getting weaker, but by going from being self-centered to other-focused. Instead of being driven by an inner void of discontentment, grateful people are free to focus on creating value for others. This is essentially the definition of purpose.

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.


Gratitude, it follows, can be employed as a strategy to defeat lust. And it can also mark the beginning of purposeful living.

For further reading, check out,

A screenshot from DJ Khaled’s Snapchat on 3.29.22
An intellectually curious millennial passionate about seeing people make healthy, informed choices about the moral direction of their lives. When I’m not reading or writing, I enjoy hiking, web-making, learning foreign languages, and watching live sports. Alumnus of Georgetown University (B.S.) and The Ohio State University (M.A.).

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