Our Failure To Withstand Temptations
Sometimes, my dog Ozzy gets to go into the unfenced front yard with me. Ozzy knows his boundaries. He can go around the side of the house; not to the neighbor’s yard or the street. He’s a good dog. He’s an obedient dog. Still, he’s a dog.
The first line of the song Resist sums it up; I can resist anything but temptation. So it is with Ozzy. He’s very well mannered and behaved as long as there is no temptation. He can’t resist temptation. When the rabbit pops out from the bush and takes off across the street, Ozzy is hot on the rabbit’s tail. But he is very well behaved sheltered from temptation.
Ozzy passed the test to become a visiting dog at the hospital. To do that, he had to execute the following: calmly greet a stranger, ignore a neutral dog and not become excited in a crowd of moving people. It took 3 attempts. Finally, we were successful.
Stay Focused On The One In Control
I say we, because if I’m watching Ozzy, I can give him cues so his focus is on me and he can ignore the temptation. With my cues he can politely greet strangers, ignore other dogs and stay calm in crowds.
It’s not easy. Ozzy is very friendly and to date, has not met anyone he doesn’t like. The temptation is to greet as many people as possible with unbridled exuberance and wallow in the affection, but to please me, he will remain at my side until he has permission to greet others. He wants to steal attention. It’s difficult to remain seated and wait for attention to be offered, so sometimes he trembles and cries, but, to please me, he will wait.
Temptation is hard to resist, but it is resistible. Paul offered up historical examples then explained how our ancestors failed in the face of temptation. He followed that with a warning and a promise:
“Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence. No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it” 1 Corinthians 10:11-13
I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Gives Me Strength
Just like Ozzy in the yard alone, I can’t resist temptation on my own. I am selfish, willful and undisciplined. I need the “cues” from the Holy Spirit to help me resist what is irresistible in my own strength. Fortunately, God is merciful. Although temptation is great, all around and common to all of us, it is not too great. I may have to tremble and cry while I wait, but the promise is I won’t be pushed past my limit.
I just have to decide who I want to please.