March 8, 2010
Don't Scratch That Itch!
Today's Truth "When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed" (James 1:13-14 NIV).
Friend To Friend I once woke up with a spider bite that was the size of a quarter. It may as well have been the size of North Carolina for as much as it itched! I was half-tempted to scratch off my arm. That nasty bite was just begging to be scratched. However, I have learned a thing or two in my thirty-something years, and one thing I know for sure: it is best not to scratch this type of itch.
It would be like opening a bag of chips with the naive intention of eating only one (yeah, right!) I knew that if I started scratching my bug bite, it would be nearly impossible to stop. I would regret having ever started.
Super-itchy bug bites are a lot like temptations. Temptations are itchy! The call on us with urgent voices that scream, "Scratch me! Scratch me!" Yet, in all reality, a little scratch will not satisfy temptation's itch at all...it will just make matters worse. When we scratch the itch of temptation, the itch does not diminish. To the contrary, it increases.
The Bible teaches us that when we resist temptation, our faith is then mobilized and the muscles of our character are strengthened. Let's look at what that looked like for a guy named Joseph. (For the full account, pause here and read Genesis 39.)
Joseph was a man of integrity who did right in the eyes of the Lord, but he definitely faced some temptation! He was seduced by temptation in the form of his master's wife, Mrs. Potiphar. You see, Mrs. Potiphar wanted her husband's right-hand man to sleep with her, and she pursued him with aggression. Hers was a hand-delivered invitation for Joseph to sin that had itchy written all over it. But he flat-out refused. His heart was determined to honor God.
"My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?" Though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her (Genesis 39:9-10).
Temptation chased Joseph relentlessly. Oh, how he must have longed for the itching to stop! To give in would be sinful. To give in was simply not an option for this young man of character. So on the day that Potiphar's wife caught him by the cloak and begged again for Joseph to sleep with her, Joseph ran out of the house. He ran from that tempting situation as fast as his legs would carry him.
God was honored in Joseph's response.
He ran from temptation.
We would be wise to do the same.
What do you need to run from today? Have you determined in your heart to honor God in everything? Temptation comes in all shapes and sizes. It might be calling your name from your pantry - or from your computer - or from a bottle - or from another cubicle in your office. What temptations do you face today? Name them and run the other way! Don't scratch that itch! Determine in your heart that you will choose the path that brings honor to God, and call on Him for strength.
I realize that dealing with temptation is not easy. When that nasty spider bit my arm, I struggled not to scratch the bite. I had to re-direct my thinking to persevere through the temptation. When we come face to face with temptations, God's strength is always available to us. We need God's strength. Ours will fail us. Friend, when we resist temptation, we get to experience the peace and protection of God, our faith is mobilized and the muscles of our character are strengthened.