Point to Ponder: Every temptation is an opportunity to do good.
Question to Consider: What Christlike character quality can I develop by defeating the most common temptation I face?
I completely agree with that. In fact, I believe that the temptations we experience are not merely passively caused, but actively motivated by:
That is, it is not mere coincidence that we individually are each susceptible to certain temptations, or that particular sins common to our culture are an ever-present temptation. Rather, it is part of God’s grand plan to glorify His name by demonstrating His power through precisely those areas.
I’m probably not expressing myself well, for which I apologize. Let me put in the other way around. It is very easy for me to feel frustration with my weaknesses, or angry about the provocative things around me that inspire me to stumble. However, the crucial point to realize is that these are NOT unfortunate circumstances that prevent me from fulfilling God’s purpose for me. Rather, they are God’s active provision in order to encourage me to fulfill my purpose in this time and place. If I was not tempted, if there was no evil within or around me to conquer, then there really would be no point to my being on earth.
In fact, that’s probably why many believers long for heaven (or a rapture) — heck, I do too at times. It certainly will be much easier on us. But, in my less selfish moments (few though they be), I find myself asking, “What would glorify God more?”, not “What would be easiest on me?” And the answer is not so much my being holy, as my becoming holy. It is no great surprise if someone from a loving family with godly role models follows in the footsteps of Christ (though the angels still rejoice). But when a sinner consumed with doubt, fear, anger, and bitterness is transformed by the power of the gospel, even skeptics are silent.
That is why I am always by bemused by conservatives who rail about societal corruption. Yes, it is wrong to tempt others to sin, and those who do so will face judgement. But, the solution is not to demand that they obey the Law, but to dig deeper into God’s Grace so that we can redeem the situation. As Rick says, temptation works through desire, doubt, deception, and disobedience — most of which is under our control, with the help of the Holy Spirit. The solution he proposes is:
Sounds good to me.
Prayer: God, teach me to take responsibility for my own responses, rather than blaming others for provoking or tempting me. Help to realize that my real problems come from my lack of faith in you, and inability to appropriate your grace. May I rejoice in my trials and persecution as opportunities to know you better, and bring you glory. I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.