Guarding from Temptation
Temptation. Ooh, that looks tempting... I was so tempted by it. Mmm, sounds tempting, but...!
And I don't mean of the chocolate variety. (Mmm...) After Abram rescued his nephew Lot from warring kings (Genesis 14:11-12), he had a meal with Melchizedek, king of Jerusalem, who blessed him. Abram had given the kind ten percent of all he had, and Melchizedek tried to give him back the material possessions (19-21).
There wouldn't have been anything wrong with Abram taking the good from the king, but he had promised God he wouldn't—so he didn't. God kept his promises to us (like the rainbow Noah saw), and that's something we all need to work on.
It's a tough thing. That carrot dangling in front of us just looks so darned tasty. But this is no healthy carrot—eating it would have meant going back on a promise, and we all know that is sin.
No, Abram was not perfect, but this time he didn't remain weak in depending on his own frail flesh.
How can we guard our own hearts from temptation?
We're tempted every day. Even Jesus knew what we went through—the Devil himself tried in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11).
- For one, we can watch the company we keep. Surrounding ourselves with like-minded godly people can only serve to build one another up and encourage one another. And how often we need encouragement in our daily walks with God in this sinful, pained world!
- We need to be careful of the “food” we “eat,” meaning we need to be mindful of what we ingest mentally. Garbage in, garbage out! Time needs to be spent in God's word, immersed in prayer and the Word he has given us.
- Part of being immersed in his Word is memorizing his Word—verses of it, anyway. Doing so will prepare us for any questions, or, yes, even temptations, that may come our way (1 Peter 3:15, 2 Timothy 2:25).
- Perhaps hardest of all is resting fully on God's grace and promises (2 Peter 1:4), not on our own strength. We want to be in control to know what's going to happen and how. But that's not how God operates, and, as the saying goes, we have to let go and let God.
- There is hope, of course; there is always hope. God is always ready to take us back with open arms, no matter how often temptations may win us over. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. [See? He never promised us a rose garden!] But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Temptations will always be there. That carrot will forever be enticing. But remember we are all imperfect and that God has the reins.