The other night, I stole some money from someone at church.
Now that I have your attention, let me set the record straight. It wasn’t that I tried out my newly acquired ninja skills. It really was a “trade”. My wallet for their $20 bucks. I had promised that what was in my wallet was worth more than what they were trading.
My wallet contained a dollar.
It was a bad trade – for them.
Temptation is a bad trade like that.
To fully set the context – we were examining James 1:13-18 – it calls us to challenge our thinking concerning temptation. Each one of us faces it. Temptation plays no favorites, it’s an equal opportunity problem. No one is immune or invincible to it. And though we each may have different temptations that call our name, we’re all invited to ignore, evade, avoid and not take the “temptation trade.”
Temptation (sin) promises us something better than what we have with God.
Temptation whispers a guarantee that it can not deliver, it pledges us something that it can not keep.
When we make the trade, it steals from us and we’re the one that loses in the end.
It’s a bad trade.
Listen, we’re all creatures that will encounter temptation. It’s not IF, it’s WHEN…
So, we’re to grow wise and learn how to navigate temptation, to avoid the bad trade.
Here’s some steps to fight back well:
- Be a student of YOURSELF – know the things that ‘lure’ you away from God’s best and choosing to trade for something less than…only you can truly know YOU. Be alert, not oblivious. Set yourself some healthy boundaries.
- See God Clearly – He’s not the one who tempts us, that comes from within. He is a giver at his core. (see James 1:13-18). He gives, He doesn’t try to take. We need to see God rightly – in order to see our temptation correctly…
- Live in the Light – find some folks you trust and respect to share your struggles with. Allow them permission to love you and coach you toward avoiding the bad trade and living for something better. Temptation holds tight in the shadows, but loses its grip when it’s brought into the light. We are only as sick as our secrets and silence.
- Approach God & keep short accounts with Him – part of beating temptations pull in your life is to not avoid God, but to stay in proximity with Jesus! Don’t run away – but rather bring your struggles too Him. He invites us to come to Him. It’s there that we find the mercy we need (Hebrews 4:14-16).
- Resist & Replace – do your best to resist the pull of temptation to make a trade from God’s best to something so much less than; take your focus off the temptation and replace it with another activity to distract you when your feeling most tempted (ex: prayer, take a walk, exercise, call a friend, journal, do something active, etc.). (see James 4:7-8)
Friends, we have a Savior who understands temptation – understands that we fail at times. He still loves us enough, despite our brokenness, to pursue us.
The gospel changed us and the gospel continues to change us. Jesus loved. Jesus loves. Jesus forgives. Jesus empowers.
He has the capability to enable us to make progress in his grace!
May these words speak hope into your life again:
14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. -Hebrews 4:14-16
*for those wondering – I didn’t give the money back, bad trades don’t get undone by some magical reset button. Life isn’t like that. I did however tithe that $20 bucks.