It’s one of those things that is placed before us everyday. From something as blatant as having that hidden cigarette because no one is looking, to something as subtle as keeping the wrong change that the cashier gave you because, hey, “it’s not my problem that she can’t count”. Temptation is one of those things that we all face each and every day. The confusing part is…is temptation a sin? In and of itself, no it is not. However, what we do with and how we react to the temptation is what can lead us into sin. I have spent the last week analyzing my personal reactions to situations and I can honestly say that at least once a day I began a sentence with, “Ohhh I was tempted to…”, and you know what follows won’t be very Christ-like. You see, sin begins in the mind and your thoughts turn into actions. An example, one day I was extremely frustrated with my boss and I was talking with a co-worker; I said, “You know I was tempted to just punch her in the face”, and even though in my heart I know that I would never do that, my thoughts could cause me to act on the temptation one day, so I had to repent. Temptation is serious.
Many of us know the Garden of Eden story quite well, the beast of the field tempted Eve, she fell for it, drew Adam in and sin entered the world. This is the oldest story of temptation that there is, but at the root of it is always the “beast of the field”, Satan, the devil. Yeah that one. You have to recognize what’s at the root to defeat it; have you ever done any gardening? Weeds can make your yard look like satan’s battlefield, but if you only tug at the surface of them they will grow back continually. Get a trowel and dig down to the root and pull them up and they don’t have a chance to grow back again. Still with me?
Now to get to the heart of the matter. Recently I took a trip to see my family. It was a 4.5 hour drive for me and I went by myself because it was a sibling thing with my sister’s grown children. I went because I had not seen my brother, niece and nephew for almost two decades and they begged me to come. My family, for the most part, is unsaved and continually in my prayers, but my older brother is a recently ordained (and single) minister. Anyway, I arrive for my day trip to much fanfare and fuss since it has been so long since we saw each other, but I wasn’t fooled by this. My whole family knows my relationship with Christ is a serious one, and although I am a fun person, my tolerance for foolishness is extremely low. We went out for brunch and immediately my brother (the minister) starts in with “Did I just hear you say a cuss word?’ Of course the whole table goes quiet while they awaited my reaction to the question. I told him very seriously that I do not swear and that he must be hearing things, so he laughed it off and moved on. A little bit later my older sister and her daughter and I went grocery shopping; after leaving the store they pulled into a really fancy liquor store. As they got out of the truck I stayed where I was. When they asked why I wouldn’t come in because, “nobody knows you here”, my answer was, “Be that as it may, you never know when someone that you know might end up where you are, and my witness is too important to me to just go wherever”. They shrugged it off and went inside.
Please keep in mind that I arrived at their house at 11 a.m., and left the following morning at 6:20 a.m. Shortly after we arrived back at my brother’s house to start cooking, and while I waited my turn to get into the kitchen of this bachelor’s townhouse I heard the most vulgar and upsetting language that I’ve heard in a long while. My brother doesn’t have cable or satellite television so I turned to see what my nephew and niece were watching and it was the Dave Chappelle show, a show that I’ve never had the displeasure of encountering before. So while trying my best to ignore the vile language and suggestive situations on the show I busied myself with school work or talking to my husband through text; however, it soon became too overwhelming for me and I exploded with, “OK y’all…I’ve had enough of this mess. Y’all have to turn this off or I’m back on the road to home. I’m serious”. My spirit could not take the level of profanity and whatever the rest of that ungodly drivel was on that show. They quickly turned it off. It seemed to me that my brother was testing my limit of tolerance by putting that show on. Temptation.
Finally, my niece is the family “expert” on making sangria, the alcoholic beverage. First of all, I took a few years of Spanish and I know that the Latin, or root word of sangria is sangre – blood. I am turned off of the drink for that reason alone, I’m not fond of the idea of drinking blood. However, there is a non-alcoholic version that I had during a Mexican fiesta that was pretty good. Moving on…I watched my niece put rum and a few other alcoholic cocktails into the mix before adding fruit juice and berries. Once finished my brother, the minister, offered me a drink. Of course I declined. He again presented the fact that no one there cared that I was a Christian, and they wouldn’t look down on me and neither would God. Oh yes, my favorite part, “Jesus drank wine, are you better than Him?” This is when I knew that it may have been a mistake for me to come. My sister said, “The ‘religious’ relatives in Baltimore even drink [my niece’s] sangria and they love it because you can’t even taste the alcohol”. I was patient. I smiled. I explained that I’m not religious. I went on to tell them that I don’t wear a cloak of Christianity, that I am saved and delivered from the things of the World and from my past. That I’m not putting on an act…I am a new creation and alcohol is something that I had been delivered from for 23 years.
My brother (again the ordained minister) not only drank the sangria, he had one of his “lady friends” over for hours during our visit and she was quite comfortable putting her hands on him in a possessive manner, and exhibiting a closeness that only married couples should. Once she left he told us that she is not someone that he is remotely interested in. I had something to say about that but after my experience throughout the day I decided against it. I want to close out this testimony with this declaration, because it may seem like a very negative experience but it wasn’t overall: my sister and niece (who is 30) told me at the end of the day that they respected my stance. They stated that my brother is the type of hypocrite that makes them not want to go to church at all, but it was nice to see me stand by my convictions and beliefs. I told them that I pray for them all, and that hopefully we will all see the truth before it’s too late.
Please don’t get me wrong, I love my family. They are awesome people. They are just lost as many who don’t see the truth; my sister even believes that she’s a Christian who is not “fully there yet”. Yes, I told her the truth, but the rest is up to her. I am glad that I went because now I have much more clarity in what I should pray for with regards to my family. If you are facing some of the same temptations, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Hold onto the following passages and know that you are not alone.
Matthew 26:41 – Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
1 Corinthians 10:13 – There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
1 Timothy 6:9 – But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
Continue to hold on to the promises of God, who is Faithful.