Points to Ponder Tempted? Watch Where Yor Are Heading (You May Wind Up There)
by Pastor Dennis Whitmore
Pastor and author Alister Begg tells the story of his first experience at a livestock auction. There were various breeds of animals being sold at different locations on the grounds, but the pigs drew his attention. He saw piglets for sale and he found them to be so cute, that he was tempted to take one home for a pet. He said that the temptation to buy a piglet was quickly expelled from his mind when he got a good look at what those cute little things grow up to become.
Isn’t sin like that? How many of you are living with the end result of some temptation that really looked good or felt good at the time? I think of the adulterer, who would probably agree that the ugly end result(s) of his yielding to a moment of temptation far exceeded whatever fleeting pleasure was enjoyed in that act. Or if the alcoholic, who lost his home, family, and dignity, could have seen beyond that first drink to where it would eventually lead. Knowing this, maybe he would have said no then, when the pull was not as strong.
I sometimes reflect on the lives of two men I hardly knew: my grandfathers. As young men, each of them left their wives and families to pursue “whatever” - or whoever. Later in life they were estranged from their children. As old men, they were never hugged and loved by their grandchildren, never consulted or phoned for their wisdom, and eventually died lonely and without intimate contact with those who should have been most dear to them. When I hear of yet another parent, walking out on his/her spouse and kids, I think of those two dead men I never knew, who were dead before they died. If only they could have seen what those little impulsive, feel-good decisions would become; maybe they would have chosen to hang in there and keep their vows. But then, who knows? Sin is like that. We all bear scars from the results of decisions that seemed right at the time.
The Bible speaks of how sin works. In this lawsuit saturated society, people like to blame others for the stupid things they do; however the scripture points to you and to me as the source of our own poor choices.
“...each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived (you’ve said yes to it), it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15 NIV, emphasis added)
The death that results from sin may be actual physical death, (such as what happens to victims of drunk drivers); but there are many other kinds of death. The death of marriages, careers, friendships, or of one’s good health can be the result of going along with a desire that is contrary to God and ultimately destructive.
In James 1:16-17, we are admonished to not be deceived. “Every good and perfect gift is from above,” from God.
The lesson of temptation and testing is that it is a normal part of everyday life (I Corinthians 10:13); however, it is our responsibility to know it when we confront it and then deal with it rightly.
We can measure what we desire by the James 1:17 standard; if what we are considering is something the Lord would gladly approve, or at least is not objected to by the scripture, it may be worth pursuing. Seek counsel and prayerful guidance.
However, if what we are drawn to do is of our own designs and not supported by the WORD, flee from it. Say no. Do not fantasize over it, or conduct a survey. Drop it. Walk. NOW.
Some things we deal with are not that “cut and dry, ” but most of what tests and tempts us every day is. At the moment, something may look, feel, or seem to be really good; but beware. Take time to stop and look ahead at what that thing could become - and most importantly, what it will cause you to become.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Whitmore serves God at the First United Methodist Church in Laurel, MD.