I face temptations just like everyone else. I am far from perfect but I also know that I have been perfected by the work of Jesus Christ. How does this go together? How are these temptations in this life to be dealt with? There are many questions which can be generated around this topic but for purposes of this blog, I will deal with the expressed temptations herein. Remember, not all temptations are the same for every person but we know that these temptations are common to man and it is God’s faithfulness in providing a way out that we should always be looking for.
In my industry, thinking quickly is the key to defeating something which is running rampant on a computer or network. The longer it takes to arrive at a solution the greater the likelihood it will be too late. Having been in this industry for 37 years, I have adapted to the quick thinking solution and have come to realize that while it may be best for the industry, it may not be a good idea for the rest of life's issues. I have found myself in a continuous state of looking ahead of what people are in the process of saying and then interrupting. How rude is that! Shame on me. I have found myself doing it when answering questions with everyone and now it has become my default mode. Now, I only seem to catch myself after the conversation has ended. Again, how rude is that. The truth be known, I have developed this over a long period of time and while it has served well for computers and networks, it has become an embarrassment for everything else. But God has given me a way out.
The temptation is to look ahead in a conversation based on the available facts and couple that with my experience and then forecast a solution. Yep. I am in a constant state of “Problem Solving Mode.” Unfortunately, I can’t just turn it off once a conversation has started because my brain has also started problem solving upon the start of the conversation. So, here is what my wife and I do to handle this in our relationship. My loving wife simply says at the onset of a conversation, “I don’t want an answer. I just want you to listen.” Those simple words have yielded a fantastic response by me. It is as though I have been given permission to stop before I have even started and simply listen. And you know what? It works. Practicing to listen, I pray will reverse my default behavior with everyone else. Looks Like God has provided a way out that I may rise above the problem.
Here is another one which I must deal with on a day-to-day basis. There is a reality which many people do not want to face. I can say that based on what scripture says. Scripture tells us to “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.” Inside my heart is a desire to save everyone. Only Jesus saves, yes, but my heart echos His desire that none should perish but repent. The temptation I have is to constantly deliver a fire and brimstone sermon to the apparently lost. Do I actually succumb to it? No. There is always an echo in my heart of the words, “gentleness and respect.” Scripture says, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” So, I suppose honoring Christ goes hand-in-hand with how one presents the Gospel and it explains the constant echo in my heart. I honor Christ in my heart. So, listening to my heart results in overcoming the temptation to ram the Gospel down someone’s throat. Of course you realize I am jesting here. Right? I'm not that rude.
Here is my last one for today. I battle keeping watch on my tongue. Not everything requires me to make a comment, so why do I make one? Beats me. I figure the more words one speaks the greater the likelihood that person is going to regret speaking at all. I have been fortunate however. Thus far, nothing I have said has caused any harm to anyone that I am aware of. That tongue. Sort of like a rudder. Such a small device and it can move big things. It can lead a straight and level course or it can run you aground. I pray that my tongue will not get the better of me or anyone else by that matter.
My goal is to look for the way out of the situation where I am compelled to comment in the first place. After all, God has provided it, but am I looking for it? I suppose that is the absolute answer to all temptations of man. We know that God has provided a way out of every single temptation that we face and we have it on His Good authority in Scripture that He will provide it. In Scripture, we are told that, “no temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it.”
So there it is. You want to fight temptation? You will fail. Sorry. In and of yourself, you can do nothing. Your adversary and mine is a demon who is way smarter and more cleaver than I am or you are. It takes God. He is the one who is faithful, not you and not me. It is God who provides the way out. Not you and not me. So I am left with one final thought on the matter. Even though I know Jesus, His Word and His will for me, why is it that occasionally I seem to find myself not looking for the way out that He has provided? I can only answer that it must be me. I suddenly and unknowingly decide to supplant God’s will with my own. I think that is the default state of man generally speaking. It will inevitably lead to acting on the temptations of this life.
To quote my dear friend and brother, Dan Barachkov, “So, how’s that working for you?”
God bless you.