The ABC’s of Wisdom: Building Character with Solomon - Temptation
Just Say No
My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them.
Playwright Oscar Wilde once jokingly remarked, “I can resist everything except temptation.” We smile when we read those words because they speak an important truth about the human condition. Temptation pays a visit to each of us every day, and most of us struggle to say no.
Temptation is not new in any sense. Temptation is the same for us as it was for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Satan tempts us today in the same way he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. From the very beginning, a battle has raged for the souls of men and women, a battle that touches all of us sooner or later.
Think how many temptations you and I face in an ordinary day. Staying in bed late-the temptation to laziness. Dressing carelessly-the temptation to sloppiness. Growling at the breakfast table-the temptation to unkindness. Arguing over who should change the baby this time-the temptation to selfishness. Starting work ten minutes late-the temptation to slothfulness. Losing your temper when a co-worker crashes your computer- the temptation to impatience. Flirting with that good-looking woman, taking a second look at that good-looking man-the temptation to lust. Refusing to speak to a person who has hurt you-the temptation to malice. Repeating a juicy story of your neighbor’s misfortune-the temptation to gossip. Taking a secret drink at a party- the temptation to drunkenness. Lying awake at night thinking sensual thoughts-the temptation to impurity. Taking your anger out on the children after a hard day- the temptation to cruelty. Going out to eat when you can’t afford it-the temptation to self-indulgence. Having a second helping and then a third-the temptation to gluttony. Firing off a hasty letter to a friend who hurt you-the temptation to revenge.
It’s important to remember that the issue is not the particular temptation we face but how we respond to it. God is able to use even the worst temptation to bring us to the place where we will begin to grow spiritually. When Joseph ran away from Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39), he ended up in jail, but the whole experience produced in him the strength of character that prepared him to become the second most important ruler in Egypt. Lest we miss the point, let’s remember that temptation itself is not evil; only the act of yielding is sinful. When we resist, we actually grow stronger.
Not long ago a friend commented that during a tense exchange with her teenage daughter, she “bit her tongue” instead of blowing her top. Every temptation-whether large or small-requires a moment-by-moment decision. When your boss asks you to fudge the figures on the monthly financial report, you only have a few seconds to decide how to respond. When you are surfing the Internet and happen to run across a site filled with pornography, you must choose immediately whether or not you’ll click the mouse button. Sometimes you truly will have to bite your tongue, and then bite it again to keep from sinning.
When temptation comes knocking at your door, just say no.
Lord, give me the strength to say no when temptation knocks at my door today. Amen.
Name the greatest areas of temptation in your life. Which ones are currently giving you the greatest difficulty?
How has the Lord demonstrated His power to help you overcome a particular temptation?
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