Matthew 6:9 “This, then, is how you should pray:…13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Here’s my question for today. Do you believe God uses temptation to see what you’re made of? My immediate answer was “no.” I think that’s the right answer but temptation and evil are real and Jesus prayer recognizes that. I want my answer to be real too, not just a gut reaction.
Sometimes our focus is more on praying the devil out of our life than praying the Triune God into it to change us. That seems like giving that evil one more power than we should. Sometimes the devil is a convenient excuse for the bad behavior of broken people in a broken world doing awful things.
The Santa Claus Theology: Job 1:9 “Satan replied, Would Job worship you if he got nothing out of it?” Temptation is Satan’s power to destroy faith by convincing us God’s blessing is only a bribe for good behavior.
The Need Theology: James 1:13 “When tempted, no one should say, God is tempting me. For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” God doesn’t waste his power tempting us. He’s focused on building faith first, then behavior. That faith has the power over temptation to reveal our broken desires to US so when we pray “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” we’ll finally understand “desire” for the Triune God IS the blessing and gift.
James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
This morning was a perfect object lesson for me. I spent 8 or 9 hours working on this title…Repentance of Gratitude…only to accidentally delete the whole thing as I tried to copy it. Despite my best efforts it was apparently meant just for me to practice what I preach. I hope this reconstruction is just what God had in mind for you to read.
Lent is fast coming to an end and I’m still learning about repentance. It’s easy to reduce it to it’s simplest definition, “being sorry.” Regret is certainly part of repentance but James has led me to another path of thought. What if there’s a another side to repentance that involves our ability to live a good life?
We work so hard in so many ways to live that “good life” that we can hardly escape our sense of entitlement that what we have, even our wisdom and understanding, comes through our own efforts. It’s the sacrifice of that entitlement that becomes the repentance of gratitude for all God has given. Those unplanned surprises and less-than-lovely tasks that happen daily are opportunities to practice “deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” That’s what the repentance of gratitude is all about. Those object lessons come every day and last longer than Lent.
“Who is wise and understanding among you?” Remember to practice the repentance of gratitude every day and “show it by [your] good life…”