I was in the super-market yesterday. I went in to buy a few things for dinner. As I waited in the line, I saw a fantastic deal… Chocolate bars, two for the price of one!!
My mind instantly went to the fact that later that night I would be home alone (with the kids fast asleep).
Just as I was about to reach for the chocolate, I came to my senses, and realized I had just been tempted!
I was just tempted to spend money that I didn’t need to spend, on items I didn’t need to have!
Is eating a chocolate bar (or two), in and of itself wrong? No! I realise it may be a petty example, but I’m sure it’s one you can relate to.
Temptation, real temptation, is everywhere. It’s all around us. In the media, on television, in music, on the internet… Everywhere! And it’s different for you, than it is for me.
Yet, I’ve realised that it’s rarely talked about amongst Christians. Its rarely even acknowledged.
The writer of James is fairly straight forward about it. He says;
‘Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my beloved.’ – James 1:12-16
What tempts us?
We are tempted by our own desires. It’s the items we want, the experiences we yearn for, that tempt us. We may choose not to acknowledge it, but we face temptation all the time! This is because it’s the very things we like, the things we find attractive, the things that give us pleasure, that we desire…. we want them… and they want us!
In theory, temptation should be is easy to over come.
If we simply stop and assess the things we desire, we can keep the good desires, and get rid of the bad… right?
The issue with this is that the passage doesn’t make the distinction between good and bad desires. It just refers to ‘our own desires’. It’s the things we decide, thatwe need, the things we want independent of God and His timing.
Even things we consider good, like a job that pays well, like owning our own home, like a nice car, like a husband or wife, like expensive clothes…. all these things can draw us away from God, if we pursue them, and not Him.
Who chooses our desires?
As followers of Christ, our desires must fall in line with the things He says in His word that we should desire. It’s now no longer up to us to choose our desires, the things we want and need.
Our desires must be His desires!
Galatians 5:24 says;
‘And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.’
In other words, we put our desires to death, and exchange them for His desires.
Doing this is painful!
This takes more than a fleeting thought. This actually takes concentration, effort and self-discipline.
The good news…
The good news is that in Christ we have eternal life. And, the good news is that as we diligently put aside the desire for things that lead to death, God will bring us the desires of our heart…. this is because our hearts desires won’t be the same things we used to want. We may have things, but they wont have us!
And, these new desires will lead to real, true, abundant, everlasting life… and not, to death!
Thoughts? Have you ever stopped to consider the things you desire? Have you ever consciously decided to desire certain things and not others? Have you put aside certain desires with a firm belief that God will meet that desire in some other way?