Sunday, April 17, 2011

To Tempt Or Not To Tempt

We read and hear a lot about temptation. It takes on many forms. From the simple temptation of breaking that diet with a rocky road brownie to a soul-snatching adulterous affair. We are tempted to charge more than we can afford on credit cards. We are tempted to lie about our age and yes, I'm guilty....about my weight. The trouble begins when we start to skirt around temptations...playing just on the edge of sin.  Rest assure: Satan is always ready to push us over that edge.

Christ, God made man, was tempted by Satan in the desert, but did not succumb to the wily enticement of the Devil.  Though Satan was defeated, he continues to be a smooth talker who makes sin seem so right. Without realizing it....can we become that tempter?
Take a workplace scenario. I can't believe that a woman who dresses provocatively doesn't realize she's doing so. Add a flirtatious demeanor and being a tempter is not far behind.
When a coach suggests that an athlete takes performance enhancing drugs, he is leading the athlete to sin. He can sugar-coat the reason all he wants, but what he is suggesting is illegal and dangerous. In his heart...he knows he is doing wrong. He is a tempter.
An offer of drugs is not a "friendly" gesture. It could be the start of a lifetime of battling an addiction. Yes, we have the power to refuse, but peer pressure, depression, being in a "party" mood can weaken our resistance. Equally at fault is the person accepting the drug, but the shame lies with the tempter.

Over and over, we are told to lead by example. This is meant to be a positive statement. Yet, without being aware of it, our example can be riddled with negative temptations. This ties into my statement about skirting the rim of sin. Actions speak louder than words. How can we ask our children to be honest when we brag about the things we "got away with" or flaunt the supplies we take from work? How can we tell them to love thy neighbor when we spite the man next door?  We abhor bullies, yet scream and belittle our spouse. Many bemoan the "colorful" language we hear...could it be that it's what they hear at home? Do we tempt without even meaning to? If our favorite hang-outs are bars or casinos are we tempting others to drink or gamble? It may not be a problem for us, but ...?  Do the magazines we read, movies and TV shows we watch tempt us or others to dress, speak, think or behave in a way that offends God? The definition of 'to tempt' is: to entice or allure to do something often regarded as unwise, wrong, or immoral. Or, to tempt/seduce both mean to allure or entice to something unwise or wicked.  To seduce is literally to lead astray.
Remember the phrase, "The devil made me do it"? There's some truth in that. Satan and his demons relish enticing a believer. He/they are thieves, liars, and manipulators. As in the Prayer to St. Michael...'the evil one prowls the earth seeking the ruin of souls.' 
Temptation is not of God. He is much too much of a loving Father to dangle temptations in front of his beloved children. He would never, ever lead His own to sin. We all have a tendency to sin, so expect to be tempted and like tempt. Few want to sin alone.  Prayer, fasting and being in the Word is our armour against temptation. Scripture says in 1 Corinthians 10:13, "You are tempted in the same way that everyone else is tempted. But God can be trusted not to let you be tempted too much, and He will show you how to escape from your temptation". God's grace is the victory to overcome it.

To avoid being a Tempter, we must call upon the Holy Spirit, asking Him to shine His light in all the dark corners of our life. We must try to be more aware of our habits and the example we are setting for children and adults alike. Be aware of innocence, esp. that of children. When we are conscious of purity, what is clean and good, we feel shame at soiling it. Look through the eyes of a must it look to a child to see us fighting with anyone?  If we fill our mouth with praising God there won't be room for angry words, foul language or gossip. Our children will then be tempted to speak kindly, to know and speak the many sacred names of Jesus. Others may want to emulate our ethics and values...which points the way to God.

There will come a day when we will stand before God and give an accounting.  When I think about this, I shiver. It's one thing to have to answer for my own will be awful to answer for the things I've tempted others to do.
"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. "—Revelation 20:12

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  1. "We read and hear a lot about temptation. It takes on many forms. From the simple temptation of breaking that diet with a rocky road brownie to a soul-snatching adulterous affair. We are tempted to charge more than we can afford on credit cards. We are tempted to lie about our age and yes, I'm guilty....about my weight. The trouble begins when we start to skirt around temptations...playing just on the edge of sin. Rest assure: Satan is always ready to push us over that edge."

    I really enjoyed this post. I can totally relate to it. Take for example my determination to be healthy. In the beginning of this year I made a resolution to exercise more and to lose 25 lbs. For the first two months of my resolution I did very well. But unfortunately lately I have begun to slip; cheating in many little ways. This afternoon for example I decided to go out to my favorite bagel place. I made a resolution that I would only have one bagel. But guess what I did? I had two bagels with Cream Cheese; (Over 700 Calories!) violating my resolution. I know for a fact this slip was the work of the devil, but still I am disappointed at my lack of resolve. I ask you to keep me in prayer so that I could get back to my healthy resolutions.

    God Bless,


  2. Interesting post. After reading this, I am all the more convinced of how important it is for us to regularly attend Confession; not just once a year, but at least once a month. Staying within a state of grace (by attending Confession regularly, as well as receiving Holy Communion regularly) will help give us the spiritual armor we need to not only avoid temptations ourselves, but also to avoid becoming the ones who tempt others. Thank you for writing this!

  3. Marco: Thanks so much for sharing your "situation" with me. Yes, over-eating is a hard temptation to overcome. I bet Jesus was in great shape...walking many miles and eating healthy food. We should follow His example and think about this when we put a "no-no" into our mouth. I will now say an Our Father each time I'm tempted, and focus on the words, our daily bread. Join me in this. I'm sure it will help, and what do we have to lose..a few pounds? Pun intended ;) Will keep you in my prayers. Visit again. N

  4. Margo: Always great to hear from you. And one of the reasons I love comments is how they add more meat to a post. I hadn't thought to mention Confession or Mass/Eucharist!!! Shame on me! Two very important aspects of fighting temptation. I spoke about prayer, fasting & being in the Word. I so appreciate the feedback. Thanks for your comment. Love when you visit. N