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On trials and temptations

Short reflection on trials, temptations and how to overcome it.

In a follow-up to last week’s sermon on how a Christian ought to endure trials, we moved on to the 2nd part of James Chapter 1, which is about temptation (vv 13-18).

Taking the James passages discussed thus far (vv 1-18), one could think of trials and temptations in the form of a dichotomy. Trials are from God and help to build up faith and character in Christ, leading up to eternal fruit; temptations are meant to entice us and lead us astray and lead unto sin and death.

How do we know what is a trial and what is a temptation? Perhaps some advice from Corinthians 10 can help:

12Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

A trial could be thought of as a temptation that you had to endure till you managed to escape it. The implication is that you should be avoiding, and fleeing, people, things and circumstances of temptation.

It was also noted how trials and temptation come from the same Greek word.

What can tempt us? They can be broadly divided into people, things and circumstances. It can be thought of in such a manner so that we may learn to identify these different ‘embodiments’ of temptation, so that we may “flee from them.”

Let’s translate these into very real terms. These are people, things and circumstances where one is placed in a position of being enticed to sin. So what should one do, after hearing these words from God and looking into the mirror?

1. Identify in what areas where you are flirting with temptation. These include:

a. A colleague you work with whom you fancy?

b. The occasional junk mail of temptation that appears in your mailbox?

c. Certain lewd sections or ads in your daily newspaper?

d. That ridiculously expensive house/car/holiday/bag which your insistence on getting is causing soured relationships and making you consider all too easily available credit options that may not be a good idea at this stage of your life?

e. Bad temper due to fatigue, lack of sleep.

f. Road conditions. Now this is quite a bit of a challenge, because not all of us have the luxury of saying “I don’t want to drive anymore.” Road conditions call for an extra plating of the armour of God, and a good swallowing of ego.

g. Etc etc

2. Pray to God and ask “not to be lead into temptations.”

3. Make practical arrangements and sacrifices to avoid, minimise those areas identified.

4. Be accountable to someone for habits that have a grip on you.

5. Don’t dwell on stuff you shouldn’t be dwelling on. Lustful thoughts, angry thoughts, covetous thoughts (online shopping, sgcarmart, haha) and certain types of activities.

This entry is for myself, so I can check on it to remind myself that as a Christian, this is what I need to do, that I may honour God with my heart, mind, body and soul.

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Categories: Spiritual musings
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