“No temptation has seized you except what is common to men and women. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
1 Corinthians 10:13
“Lead us not into temptation.”
Matthew 6: 13
“Temptation” – To entice someone to commit an unwise or immoral act especially by promising them a reward. To be inviting or attractive to someone to provoke them to take a risk. To lure something such as fish with bait. To draw into a foolish course.
What am I tempted to do in my life that I believe would be contrary to God’s will for me?
“Temptation commonly comes through that for which we are naturally fitted.”
Bruce Foss Westcott
(1825 – 1901)
“The Devil only tempts those souls that wish to abandon sin and those that are in a state of grace. The others belong to him; so he has no need to tempt them.”
Jean-Baptiste Marie Vianney
My mother is a very accomplished pianist. As kids, my sister and I tagged along to many events where my mother was asked to accompany a soloist or singing group. The events that seemed to require mother’s talents the most were weddings where a performer was asked to sing the very popular vocal version of the Lord’s Prayer.
I can remember hearing every possible type of voice serenade the audience at these weddings in gardens, churches and homes. I’ll never forget, as a young girl, wondering about the line in the song: “And lead us not into temptation.” I thought it was strange to ask God not to take us down a path to temptation’s front door. In fact, as a young girl, we were taught a song with these words: “yield not to temptation,” which sounded like very hard work on my part. So I asked myself, “Why would God, intentionally, make my life miserable and hard and strenuous by leading me down the garden path to sin?” Have you ever wondered about the phrase in the Lord’s Prayer, “And lead us not into temptation?”
Well, ever since I learned the Lord’s Prayer, I found the idea of God leading me into temptation difficult to comprehend, that is until I started doing “leg lifts” with my friend, Andrea. She helps me exercise my legs which were so badly fractured in the car accident that nearly took my life. Andrea, especially, works on my left leg because it was crushed. The other day, this energetic ball of muscle came into the house with this announcement, “I’ve got a new exercise for your legs. Lie on the floor and roll on your right side,” Andrea ordered me like the drill sergeant she pretends to be. She continued, “Keep your left leg perfectly straight and move your entire leg forward – level with your body. Now, lift your leg as high as you can…and she began counting…one and two and three…fifteen…and sixteen and seventeen…and so on.” I thought I’d scream. After doing a variety of these leg lifts, I felt like I’d never walk again. But following 2 months of repeating this strenuous routine, my left leg was stronger – much stronger than I ever imagined it would be. In fact, on some days, the strength in my left leg was almost as great as my right leg.
Repeated activity…repeated use of my muscles, strengthened them. However, and this is critical, Andrea always reminded me, “When the pain is too great, tell me, we’ll stop, because I don’t want you to hurt yourself.”
So what did the leg lifts teach me about temptation? Here’s what I learned. I hate to admit it, but I can be impatient. It’s one of the troublesome problem areas in my life. I began to pray that God would remove my impatient nature. Perhaps because my name is Dorothy, I thought I would click my red shoes together three times and “poof”, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I would automatically become a patient person. Guess what? I bet you can predict what happened! The more I prayed for patience, the more I found myself facing circumstances that tried my patience. I got behind every crazy driver on the road. If there was a slow line in the grocery store – I was in it. If I went to pick up medicine at the pharmacy – they couldn’t find my prescription. When I went to the cleaners to pick up a blanket – they’d lost it. I went to the post office – there was one clerk for a line of 15 people wanting to send packages. And when I arrived at the drive-through at the bank, there were six cars in front of me and I ended up sitting in line for 20 minutes. Need I say more! One annoyance after another – and I was praying for patience!
About this time is when I got to thinking about my leg lifts. Repeated exercise strengthened my legs. Maybe, God was teaching me something I really needed to learn by repeatedly having me exercise patience. He knew these trying events would strengthen my trust in Him as I asked for His help in overcoming this problem in my life. This is why God leads me to an area of need in my life. Like Andrea, He is the specialist of my spiritual life. He understands how far my strength will go. So He asks me to trust Him. Some days when Andrea arrives I’ll say to her, “I have a lot of pain today. I can’t push as hard,” and she understands. Our Heavenly Father understands us with an even greater knowledge of the inside and outside. He also invites us to tell Him, “Please don’t lead me into any temptation that’s too tough for me to bear.”
I love the words of John Wesley, for they give me great hope in confronting those weak areas of my life, where I am tempted to fall under the enticement of the evil one. “In the greatest (or smallest) temptations, a single look to Christ, and the bare pronouncing of His name, suffices to overcome the wicked one.” As someone once noted, God’s grace will never lead us where His grace won’t keep us. “And lead us not into temptation,” (Matthew 6:13, K.J.V.).
“Jesus did not say, ‘You shall not be tempted, you shall not be travailed, you shall not be afflicted,’ but Jesus said, ‘You shall not be overcome.’”
Julian of Norwich
“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; He’ll always be there to help you come through it.”
1 Corinthians 10: 13
The Lord’s Prayer
“Father, may Your name be taken seriously,
May your Movement spread.
Sustaining bread grant us each day.
And free us from our sins,
even as we release everyone indebted to us.
And don’t let us get all tangled up.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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