I was sitting in my room, being holy, and minding my own business. It was early; the sun was shining and the birds were chirping. As I was having my morning fix of social media: scrolling through timelines, laughing at memes, and liking pictures, my phone pinged. A familiar, yet distant name came across my screen. I immediately thought, “Not today, Satan.” The name across my screen symbolized a period in my life that I have worked hard to close and step away from. I had not talked to him in a long time and before opening the text message I already knew his overall purpose for engaging me in conversation.
For about five minutes (probably more like five seconds) I tried to play it cool and keep scrolling through my timeline. While I knew I did not want to travel down that road, a part of me was dying to open the text. A part of me was curious to see what he said. So…I opened it. It was the casual hello that sparked small talk but then led to him attempting to be my personal tour guide down memory lane.
When the first, “do you remember…” was presented, I simply replied, “Nah, I forgot.” I hadn’t forgot. In fact, not only could I remember, I emotionally and physically responded to the memory. My heart started beating a little heavy, my mind started racing and I literally said, “Jesus, help me.” After becoming upset with myself for even responding to the text message, I figured the only way that I could fix this was to be honest and share where I was now in life. I explained that I decided to become closer to Christ and made commitments to the Lord that I could not break. When he replied, “Oh well does Jesus…” I knew I had to end the conversation. Not only did I end the conversation, I erased the contact and blocked the number.
Erasing and blocking the number did not bother me. What bothered me the rest of the day was that I could not stop thinking about him. I battled between unblocking the number to resume the conversation versus being angry with myself for having the desire to do so. I began to ask myself how mad would God be if I… or won’t God forgive me if I… or would it really be that bad? In a week’s time frame, this was the second time that I had to deal with this type of interaction. The first person was an easy bullet to dodge. The current person, not so much. Then I became upset with God. I was irritated that He would allow these little tests when he knew I was trying my hardest to live a public and private lifestyle that would please him. Like God stop playing with me. I have literally began to do all that you tell me to do and now you want to dangle stuff in my face like this? This is foul, Jesus. (No disrespect intended; that’s just the kind of relationship we have; real talk.) I was mad because I felt that I was tempted and I fell.
As I have developed the habit to do when I cannot understand or am struggling with something, I began to search for help in the bible and online. I typed in “What does the bible say about temptation?” I found scriptures and used my Life Application Bible (you really should invest in one, it is amazing with helping you study scripture) to gain a better understanding on the role that temptation plays in our walk with Christ. What I learned helped me better process my experience and become further prepared to encounter temptation in future.
Often times, when tempted our first response is that Satan is responsible. While the devil certainly tempts us, God allows us to be tempted. Now, why would God allow us to be tempted? He wants to build us to be more like him. Just like we have to go through multiple test in order to attain a degree, or prove that we are capable of handling a job, God provides us the opportunity to show that we are spiritually equipped to handle our walk. Though temptation comes in many forms for various people, God allows for us to be tested to choose what is right over what your flesh desires. You will never be tempted by the things that you don’t struggle with because you can easily resist; there is no test.
Three things that I learned about temptation that helps me are:
- Temptation builds character.
- Temptation provides opportunity to show your growth.
- God always provides you with an escape.
Temptation isn’t a plague to be ashamed of; it is not sin. Yielding to temptation is sin. Temptation is a challenge in life’s obstacle course that you are able to conquer. Jesus was tempted in all areas like we are yet, He did not sin. When you are tempted, run to Christ. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” -Hebrews 4:15-16