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Temptation and Desire

“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires. Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death. Do not be led astray, my brothers and sisters.” James 1:13-16

Temptation is fundamentally linked to desire, specifically an internal drive to engage with that which will harm or even destroy us in the the long run. Desire creates a space for darkness (or light) to enter. Whatever enters grows and may even take on a life of its own. James is quick to point out that God will not call you into darkness. (This seems different from allowing darkness to affect your life.) God is light, without a hint of darkness and cannot change who He is.

Not blaming God for whatever darkness you are facing seems to be a helpful first step. I’d say easier than done because while God does not push you into darkness, He is fully capable of shining his light to keep you from evil. Also because of free will, there is no limit on the spectrum of desire.

Temptation arises from within according to James. It’s easier to point the finger at culture and environment, a multitude of other outside factors which we cannot control. But we can control desire, or so it seems. Actually we may lack ability abandon our 7th trip to the fridge but we may learn to pause and ponder our deeper desires seemingly met by food. Under every relentless temptation lies an unmet need.

So how do we hold space in heart and soul for life enhancing, true and good desires? On the surface my desires seem acceptable and even helpful. I think we all have surface and deep desires. Surface desires serve an immediate need and are more likely to feed the ego.

On the surface I want my kids to learn, grow and choose appropriate behavior. But do I truly have their best interest in mind or are my desires to linked to my own comfort and unwillingness to be disturbed or embarrassed by immaturity?

I want a clean and orderly house. Is this for my own enjoyment and peace of mind or do I strive to avoid self condemnation the judgement of others?

I value time with close friends. Is my desire to truly connect with someone or am I looking to emotionally dump?

Temptations and desires are inside issues which are difficult to judge from the outside or situation alone. Proper behavior and even good deeds may cover up ugly desires. Am I in leadership because I need attention and validation or do I truly feel called to serve? So many questions to ask.

Healthy life flows from healthy desires and which God is happy and willing to impart. If we are willing, he may also strip our unhealthy desires away. One way to stay the course, according to James.

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