When we are tempted
Our discourse on temptation takes on a new dimension with the story of a man who went to a neighbour’s farm in his absence to “borrow” some of the neighbour’s cassava.
He was accompanied by his Sunday school son who was old enough to know the proper name for uprooting cassava from a neighbour’s farm in his absence and without his permission.
When they arrived at the farm, the man checked on the road ahead to see if they had company, but no one was in sight. He checked the road behind—no one was coming.
The temptation that led him to the neighbour’s farm intensified when he realised that there was no one in sight spying on him. Temptation gets more slippery when you think no one is watching or no one will know.
Presuming that no one would see him, the man proceeded to uproot some cassava. But his son said, “Father, you didn’t look up!”
When the man looked up and saw the empty sky, he remembered that God was watching! And he also realised that his son knew what he was about to do.
“Let’s go back,” he told his son. As he abandoned his dubious mission, his empty basket had no stolen cassava in it; neither did his pocket have the money he would have received for selling the cassava.
But his heart was light and his conscience clear, and he had no guilt to contend with.
Neither did he have an arrow pierce his chest from the owner of the cassava farm who could have been hiding behind a nearby tree! Such is the joyful freedom we experience when we overcome temptation and abandon the road that leads to evil and embarrassment.
The man must have been convicted when his son said, “Father, you forgot to look up.” Looking up to God helps us to say no to the temptations we face.
In their innocence and by godly training, children believe and accept biblical truths that adults often ignore. Children, like the man’s son, know that God is our companion for life!
The Word says that, “The eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth . . . (2 Chronicles 16:9). If we think God’s eyes are like a hidden camera primarily meant to film our evil deeds to catch us and punish us, we are sadly mistaken.
God loves us and does not want us to yield to the temptation to do evil things. He wants us to live right so we can continue to receive his grace to enjoy life in preparation for eternity.
The reason his eyes move to and fro throughout the earth, according to 2 Chronicles 16:9, is “so that he may support those whose heart is completely his.”
Or, as another translation puts it, “his eyes move to and fro throughout the earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
You see? It is for our good that he watches over us, so he would lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
Why did the Lord Jesus teach his disciples (and us) to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”? It is because the human being is so weak that, it is better not to be exposed to temptation than to think we can withstand it when it comes.
Moreover, the Lord knows that our weakened fallen nature makes us susceptible to enticement; hence he urges us to watch and pray against temptation.
That is why it is particularly wicked for anybody to trick, entice, or lure another person into doing evil to see if he would act with integrity. And if he falls for the temptation, the victim is then exposed and brought to public humiliation and legal tragedy. That is awful, to say the least!
Of course, the fallen victim is responsible for his failures, but the one who tempted him will also account for his own misdemeanour. That is why the serpent that tempted Eve crawls on its belly and the Seed of the woman crushed the head of Satan!
Says the Lord Jesus, “Temptations will come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck” (Luke 17:2-4).
Thank God, he does not tempt us to do wrong. Instead, “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Our duty is to discover the way of escape; and that way, of course, is the Lord Jesus who helps us to stay away from slippery places of temptation.