So far today I’ve done all right. I haven’t gossiped, haven’t lost my temper, haven’t been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent. I’m very thankful for that.
But in a few minutes, Lord, I’m going to get out of bed, and from then on I’m probably going to need a lot more help. Amen
This is probably a familiar prayer to many of us. Things seem to be going so well, and then…
Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 (CEV)
15 The Lord God put the man in the Garden of Eden to take care of it and to look after it. 16 But the Lord told him, “You may eat fruit from any tree in the garden, 17 except the one that has the power to let you know the difference between right and wrong. If you eat any fruit from that tree, you will die before the day is over!”
The First Sin
3 The snake was sneakier than any of the other wild animals that the Lord God had made. One day it came to the woman and asked, “Did God tell you not to eat fruit from any tree in the garden?”
2 The woman answered, “God said we could eat fruit from any tree in the garden, 3 except the one in the middle. He told us not to eat fruit from that tree or even to touch it. If we do, we will die.”
4 “No, you won’t!” the snake replied. 5 “God understands what will happen on the day you eat fruit from that tree. You will see what you have done, and you will know the difference between right and wrong, just as God does.”
6 The woman stared at the fruit. It looked beautiful and tasty. She wanted the wisdom that it would give her, and she ate some of the fruit. Her husband was there with her, so she gave some to him, and he ate it too. 7 Right away they saw what they had done, and they realized they were naked. Then they sewed fig leaves together to make something to cover themselves.
God had made this beautiful world and left man and woman to care for it. They were given great abundance to share, and just one rule. Eat anything you like, apart from that tree.
But they couldn’t resist it. They thought, with some help from the snake, that they knew better than God. They were fully aware of what God had said to them, but they could not resist the temptation.
A great start to Lent.
Oscar Wilde famously said,
I can resist anything but temptation.
I wonder how true that is for me? Returning to the prayer at the top, can I resist the temptation to gossip, lose my temper, greed, be grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent? All equally things that God says are not good for me, for us – or for all those others whose lives we effect.
The temptations in life are many. From this one apparently simple disobedience, life has spiralled out of control. The knowledge of right and wrong, far from helping, has uncovered a whole category of wrongs that we have been more than happy to indulge in – ‘Just this one’, ‘No one will know’, ‘What difference will it make?’. But the difference it makes may be huge. We may not see it or realize it, but giving in to temptation has repercussions. It is not for no reason that the Lord’s Prayer contains the line,
Lead us not into temptation.
Perhaps for this lent, that needs to be the focus. To take more time. To pause and reflect before I act. Is what I am about to do good and helpful, or am I perhaps giving in to temptation? Maybe I can live a purposeful lent. Instead of giving up sweets or some other culinary indulgence, can I give up giving in to those actions that are soooooo tempting; that I may make it beyond getting up before I have responded badly to something or someone. And for that I need God’s help.
So many things Lord,
that I know I shouldn’t do,
that are not what you ask of me,
good for me,
or for those around me.
follow what I want,
my natural instincts,
when I get things wrong,
purposefully choose what I want,
think I know better
or speak and do without thinking.
I want to live your ways,
and I need your help.
Help me to recognise temptation
for what it is,
a distraction from you
and what you ask of me.
and consider what I do,
that I will not give in
Whenever I think of temptation, I can never resist this song (oops that didn’t last long did it!)