Monday, August 15, 2016

How God Answers our Temptations with Grace

1 Corinthians 10:13 (RSV): Endurance and Strength through Faith

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

In my winter jacket, I placed an index card with this Scripture handwritten on it. It is one of those verses that I try to memorize, for life is a difficult road full of setbacks and hurdles. Paul’s reminder provides the spiritual vision that I more often fail to have. This verse reveals that the challenges in life are really God’s love working through me, building me up as a better witness in the world. And believe me, I need a lot of building up.

In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul issues one of his famous passages that functions as a grave reminder. He suggests that the sins of the ancient Israelites (idolatry, immorality, complaining, testing God) function as instructive examples: “These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us . . .” (1 Corinthians 10: 11). In effect, Paul reminds the church that temptation will come, but in that temptation, whatever it may be, they are given God’s grace to both endure and escape it. Paul’s reminder implies, however, that they must have faith in God and abandon their own self-serving attitudes.

Two millennia later, our world is no different. Paul’s reminder applies to us, too. If we look around, whether in our own lives or in the reflection of the world, we can see plenty of idolatry, immorality, complaining, and ignoring God. The temptations to be self-consumed meet us in every facet of our lives. It is how we approach those moments of temptation that determine our victory or defeat. If we remember God’s faithful love, we endure and escape the temptation, and in that moment, we grow as disciples. But the world is a cruel place, and the noise of modernity is loud. It takes effort and faith to plow past the numbing noise of the world. But in God’s word, we are promised deliverance through faith in Christ.

One day, Dana (my wife for those who may not know) discovered the tattered index card that contained 1 Corinthians 10:13 as she was preparing to wash my jacket. As the intelligent, loving person she is, she questioned why I had a verse about temptation in my jacket. Was I involved in something that she should know about? I laughed alone, knowing that life’s challenges lurk in each moment. I carefully explained, and after a few moments we laughed together.

I pray that our faith be the leading factor in every challenge, knowing that God provides strength and escape in every temptation.

May the peace and love of Christ be with you all.