Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Scratching the Surface
(A Brief and Incomplete Guide to Resisting Temptations)
Temptations are bad things that taste good.
When ingested, they lead to emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and even physical indigestion.
Temptations are bad things that we want to do.
No one is tempted to do anything that they don’t want to do.
It can be as simple as wanting to wolf down a pound of dark chocolate sea salt caramels or as complex as wanting sexual intimacy with someone other than your spouse.
Succumbing to temptations always insults God’s holiness and most often injures others.
It is common for those who have tasted bad things to rationalize their behaviors.
“The devil made me do it!”
You did it.
No one can make you do anything that you don’t want to do.
“I couldn’t resist!”
Obviously, you couldn’t because you didn’t.
People who can’t resist temptations don’t have the personal willpower or common sense to take our Lord’s advice on overcoming them.
Sin, rejecting God’s will for our lives as personified in Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture, is a choice.
Life presents many choices to us, good and bad and ugly and innocuous, but we choose.
Willpower is bolstered by intimacy with God most readily enhanced by worship, prayer, Bible study, fasting, sacrament, silence, stewardship, mission, and regular fellowship with His family of faith.
Yet, God knows even people with uncommon, consistent, and courageous willpower cannot overcome all temptations on their own; for as the apostle concluded, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
That’s why He taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.”
God knows no matter how good we are or become, we are never good enough not to need Jesus as Lord and Savior.
So He teaches us to ask His help to overcome temptations by directing us away from them.
In other words, He is counseling us to pray/ask/beg Him to do whatever it takes to keep us away from them.
This prayer instructs us to ask/beg God to craft His providence in cognizance of our natural inclination to succumb to whatever/whomever is not good for our emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical health.
God knows we can’t do it without Him.
That’s why, again, He taught us to pray/ask/beg, “Lead us not into temptation.”
Because we share the same human foibles, frailties, fallings, and failures and never not need Jesus as personal Lord and Savior, I pray daily like this and urge you to join me: “God, You know I want to do this bad thing because it tastes so good. You know I’m not only having a hard time resisting this bad thing, but I want to do it. You know me. You made me. You know I’m so often not mature or wise or faithful enough to stay away from things that are not good for our relationship and me and that so often hurt others. Because I know You know me and know I want to do this bad thing, I am asking/begging You to lead me away from it no matter what it takes. I don’t want to hurt You or anyone else; but I really want to do this. I don’t want to want to do it, but I do want to do it; and because You taught me to ask/beg You to lead me away from temptations like this, I am expecting You to honor this prayer right now for your glory, laud, and honor in the name of Jesus. Amen.”
He taught us to pray that way because He knows our nature as Lord.
He taught us to pray that way because He wants to be our Savior.
So when temptations come knocking at the door, and they always do and will never stop until we’re in heaven with Him, pray, “Jesus, please get that for me. Thank You!”
Blessings and Love!