Day 26: Growing through Temptation – 40 Days of Purpose-Driven Life

Purpose #3: You Were Created to Become Like Christ

Point to Ponder: Every temptation is an opportunity to do good.

Verse to Remember: “God blesses the people who patiently endure testing. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” — James 1:12 (NLT)

Question to Consider: What Christlike character quality can I develop by defeating the most common temptation I face?

[Read More] thoughts on Day 26 of Rick Warren‘s Purpose-Driven Life* including about how and why God allows temptation.

I’ve often said, “Never confuse strength of character with lack of temptation.” It is easy to consider oneself spiritually mature when we personally aren’t tempted to commit those sins we consider ‘serious.’ Rick goes even further, pointing out that true maturity only comes from temptation: “God develops the fruits of the spirit in your life by allowing you to experience circumstances in which you’re tempted to express the exact opposite quality.” (emphasis his)

I completely agree with that. In fact, I believe that the temptations we experience are not merely passively caused, but actively motivated by:

* our inner weakness
* our cultural environment
* God’s sovereign purpose for our lives

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:

1. Refuse to be intimidated “The closer you grow to God, the more Satan will try to tempt you”
2. Recognize your pattern of temptation and be prepared for it “Wise planning reduces temptation”
3. Request God’s help “sometimes we don’t want to be helped”

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.