The first thing I saw on my Facebook news feed this morning was a verse:
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
~ 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)
A friend was apparently doing one of those post-a-verse-a-day-for-a-week challenges.
This is probably one of those verses that would make it to a “top 10 most memorized verses by Christians list” on watchmojo.com – and for a good reason. Merriam-Webster defines temptation as ”something that causes a strong urge or desire to have or do something and especially something that is bad, wrong, or unwise”. Meanwhile, the Greek word for temptation can mean either to test or to tempt.
Temptations come in all shapes and sizes. For some, it might be to do something we know God doesn’t want, such as when we violate His commandments by lying, coveting persons or things, stealing, or committing adultery. For others, it might be making unwise decisions, such as deciding to spend two hours immersing in social media rather than praying for important matters or meditating on scripture.
While I am considerably far from being unaffected and unyielding to temptations that come my way, and all of the posts I write are for myself, first and foremost; having a firm grasp of what’s happening helps me to act according to how God wants me to. Let’s look at the process of temptation, and try to understand it using role-palying game illustrations:
- Temptations often come our way whether we like it or not. Their occurrence is beyond our control, like random battles in a role-playing game (RPG).
- Awareness. What’s important is for us to know when we are already in a battle. We need to be self-aware that a trial is already taking place.
It’s that moment when someone desperately needs to borrow money, and your mind returns a knee-jerk reply that you don’t have any, even if you have a month’s salary in your ATM account. It’s that moment when you read an SMS for a prayer request, but don’t feel like praying. It’s when you see your crush and start to daydream…
- Moment of choice. Stephen Covey, author of the best-selling book “The 7 Habits of Higly Effective People” emphasized that between a stimuli and a response lies our choice. When temptation comes, we have choices. Ultimately, our choices boil down to either pleasing God, or not pleasing Him.
- Fight or Flee. A Nido commercial for father’s day that’s been popping up frequently in between youtube videos today begins with a boy narrating how his dad taught him to choose his battles. The verse at the top of this article tells us that God provides a “way out” for us to endure or overcome the battle-trials sent our way. Our job is to find that “way out”, and run towards it. ASAP. Perhaps it’s the act of looking elsewhere upon exposure to a provocative image or scene, or sending an instant prayer for help to God upon seeing a person you really hate at the moment.
Just like in RPGs, however, the battle is active, and every second counts. The slower we react properly to what’s happening, the higher the likelihood of yielding to temptation will be.
- Cling to God. Because Jesus himself was tempted, he knows how we feel. He experienced the things we experienced, and he can relate to us. He understands what we’re going through.
Whether you yielded to temptation or not, never allow yourself to stray away from Him. There are days when we’ll feel unworthy or too disappointed with ourselves, yet there is no better way for us to go that to submit to Him, in all humility:
So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.
~James 4:7-10 (MSG)
Questions for reflection:
- Are you aware whenever a “moment of temptation” appears?
- How fast can you see God’s way out?
- Does the fact that Jesus understands us bring you any comfort?
- What do you do after realizing that you have succumbed to temptation, do you immediately talk to God, or spend time away from Him to wallow in sin and/or guilt?