Shift your focus, change the outcome
I have three wonderful (now grown-up) kids, that I am so proud of. I am amazed at their achievements, and even more amazed that my husband and I managed to turn out three such spectacular human specimens! However, I do know, sadly, that no-one in our family (me very much included) has ever achieved perfection. Come to think of it, we did a lot of teaching about how to be good; I don’t remember one single lesson teaching, or being taught, how to be naughty – we’ve all managed that bit all by ourselves!
Don’t you fancy living a life where you always make right choices, always say the right things, even always think the purest thoughts? That would be a life free from temptation, wouldn’t it? There again, without the temptation, wouldn’t it just be life as a machine that is programmed to follow a particular pathway? Making right choices when there is no temptation isn’t really a choice. But making right choices when there is temptation to do wrong – well that would be complete freedom. But the only person to achieve it perfectly is Jesus himself.
So what was Jesus meaning when he taught us to pray, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:13)? Temptation is pressure to do wrong, and the truth is, all of us will fail if the pressure is strong enough. And ‘the evil one’ is always happy to oblige in that department.
Jesus must have looked around at his audience, knowing that many, if not all of them would suffer, even die for their faith. They undoubtedly were going to face a time of testing, trial, temptation. What he was teaching them, was the ‘the evil one’ only has the power we permit him to have. Focusing on him leads to failure. They needed instead, to keep their eyes firmly fixed on Heavenly Father, who knows precisely how much pressure we can take.
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful;he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Some temptation gives us the opportunity to grow stronger in faith. Too much would crush us. God knows what we need. Fix your eyes on him. That’s how to disempower ‘the evil one’.