Saturday, January 27, 2018

There will always be that "one tree"

But remember this—the wrong desires that come into your life aren’t anything new and different. Many others have faced exactly the same problems before you. And no temptation is irresistible. You can trust God to keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it, for he has promised this and will do what he says. He will show you how to escape temptation’s power so that you can bear up patiently against it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 TLB)

There are times we think the particular temptation we face in life is unique to just us. No one else could possibly be faced with the same degree or intensity of temptation as we are. Spoiler alert... there is no "new" or "unique" temptation known to man! At the center of it all is our will. At the most basic level we find it "our way" pitted against God's. We may see temptation different today than it was fifty years ago, but trust me on this - lust was still lust back then, lying has been around since Eden, and there isn't anything new under the sun!

The frustrating part is that we don't resist it! We might find temptation comes in a slightly different way from one day to the next, but the root of all sin begins within the will of man - there is a desire to demand one's own way. Resistance is harder at times than others. Be alone with your temptation, no one watching you, and your "degree" of resistance is much lower. Be in a crowd with your temptation, with all eyes on you, and suddenly your "degree" of resistance rises to astronomically powerful proportions! But...is it true resistance, or just embarrassment and pride that keep us from actually giving into that temptation in "public view"?


To resist with consistency, not just because we might be "caught in the act", is what we probably all desire, but have no idea how to attain. Notice again those words in our passage today - there is no promise of "zero" temptation, but rather a reliable and consistent way to bear up as temptation comes our way. As far back as Eden, the "two trees" have existed. Most of us would rather the "one tree" we shouldn't eat from be removed entirely from the garden and be so far out of our reach that we would never even see it! The reality is that the "one tree" is right there in the grove and it isn't going away.

What will change in the course of time is how much "focus" that "tree" gets in our life. This is how God changes us as we "bear up" under his power to resist the temptation. The "one tree" is still there (the temptation still exists), but because we are more focused on him we don't even feel the desire to go toward its branches any longer! Until we reach that point, those branches hold some "promise" to us, though. They have us convinced the "fruit" they offer will be "okay" for us, or even "desirable". Little by little, as we redirect our focus away from the "one tree" we aren't supposed to partake of, we find we begin to notice all he has provided which is more than fine for us to enjoy!

Escaping temptation isn't about the tree no longer existing - it is about the desire to partake of it changing so much that it no longer appeals to us. This is only possible as we change our focus - the resistance "against" temptation really begins when we begin to appreciate the many other ways God has chosen to bless us. There is a whole "garden" awaiting us - that "one tree" doesn't have to be our whole focus! Just sayin!