And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. - Matthew 6:13a (NAS)
A couple of weeks ago there was a commotion at the supermarket that sent people running from the building screaming at the top of their lungs and the aisles looking like a tornado had struck the building. What or who could have caused such a commotion? I'll give you one guess and if you know my puppets you'll probably guess Harold Peterson.
No one quite knows why but on that fateful day Harold happened to be at the supermarket looking for something, but it wasn't food. Now everybody that knows Harold, knows he loves food and would do just about anything for it, well anything but work, and he is often found gobbling up all the samples he can get his hands on but on that day he was passing them by.
One of the first things that happened that day that let people know Harold was around was the toppling of the cereal display that sent boxes flying everywhere. Next he knocked over the pyramid of Spaghetti sauce cans which in turn knocked over a pyramid of soup cans. By the time he quit crawling around on the floor he had toppled over fifteen different types of displays.
If that wasn't bad enough, he headed to the produce aisle next and started digging through the bins tossing apples, oranges, potatoes, and everything else he could get his hands on every which direction. Almost a dozen people slipped on the bananas he threw on the floor but no one was laughing. Finally the head manager was able to pin him down.
“Let go of me!” Harold shouted, “I need to find Trouble!” “I think you've found plenty of that already.” The manager said as he started dragging Harold to the office at the back of the store. “But I have to find Trouble.” Harold protested. “Or my friend is going to kill me.” “He'll have to wait in line.” the manager said as a huge crowd gathered, “There's plenty here who want their turn.”
Just as they were about to go through the door, Harold hollered “There he is!” There's who?” the manager asked. “Trouble, my friend's pet rattle snake.” Harold said pointing to the five foot long reptile. The next thing the manger knew, all pandemonium broke loose. The crowd panicked and started stampeding towards the front door knocking all the shelves over like dominoes.
In all of the commotion, Harold wiggled free and quickly grabbed Trouble and escaped through the back door while the head manager sat down in the middle of the biggest mess he'd ever seen and cried.
How many of us actively look for trouble? Unfortunately, we never have to go far to find it. Furthermore, no-one is immune to it not even the Christian. When Jesus was teaching us how to pray in Matthew 6:13 He addressed the issue of temptation when he taught us to pray “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
The Bible makes it clear that temptation is a part of human existence so to better understand temptation we need to know more about the original word used in the Bible. The word used in the Bible can denote an enticement that has the goal of causing one to sin, or it can refer to a test or trial of the validity of one's faith. I believe it is the first of the two meanings implied in Jesus' teaching.
Temptation to sin has a couple different sources the first being Satan or the Devil. Paul was afraid of this when he wrote to the Thessalonians - Because of this, when I could wait no longer, I sent Timothy to you so I could learn about your faith. I was afraid the devil had tempted you, and then our hard work would have been wasted. 1 Thessalonians 3:5 (NCV)
The other source of temptation is self. James addresses this issue in James 1:14 But people are tempted when their own evil desire leads them away and traps them. (NCV) The reason why some Christians have a real problem with temptation is because THEY WANT TO! Sort of like the boy in this illustration I found.
"Son," ordered a father, "don't swim in that canal." "O.K., Dad," he answered. But he came home carrying a wet bathing suit that evening. "Where have you been?" demanded the father. "Swimming in the canal," answered the boy. "Why did you?" the father asked. "Well, Dad," the boy explained, "I had my bathing suit with me and I couldn't resist the temptation." "Why did, you take your bathing suit with you?" his father asked. "So I'd be prepared to swim, in case I was tempted," he replied. - (Pulpit Helps, November, 1991, p. 20)
Before we can be ready to pray “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” we need to be willing to keep away from temptation, and to avoid evil. We can pray “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” all we want and it won’t do us a bit of good if we keep playing with it. If we try to compromise ourselves thinking we can get away with it, we will lose.
A hunter raised his rifle and took careful aim at a large bear. When about to pull the trigger, the bear spoke in a soft soothing voice, "Isn't it better to talk than to shoot? What do you want? Let's negotiate the matter." Lowering his rifle, the hunter replied, "I want a fur coat." "Good," said the bear, "that is a negotiable question. I only want a full stomach, so let us negotiate a compromise." They sat down to negotiate and after a time the bear walked away alone. The negotiations had been successful. The bear had a full stomach, and the hunter had his fur coat! - (Bible Illustrations)
When it comes to temptation we should remember God's promise to us found in 1 Corinthians 10:13 - 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. (MSG)
Here's Something To Ponder
- How often do you tempt yourself?
- Do you rely on God to keep you from trouble?