Greater Gifts

I am a proud dog mom to two labs, Lilly and Maddux. In this season of my life, they are the closest thing to my children, and that’s fine with me for now. Every day when I go home for lunch, they are ready and waiting for me. They sit and wait while I prepare lunch then follow me into the living room to eat. Inevitably I will forget something and have to walk back to the kitchen.  Every time this happens they follow me back to the kitchen, leaving the food on the coffee table in the living room. On one such occasion, my husband pointed out that their obedience was thought provoking: how often are we more tempted by “food on the table” than keeping in step with our Master, our Heavenly Father?  We are tempted to pursue a momentary indulgence rather than waiting for our Father to give us greater gifts.

Consider this scripture from James 1:13-18:

“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”

In this scripture James explicitly points out that God is not the tempter. Our God does not set traps for us. Our God does not desire that we fall into sin or delight in saying, “I told you so.” Our God is merciful, extending grace and forgiveness when we mess up. Hypothetically, if either Maddux or Lilly had stayed behind in the living room after I left and ate my lunch that would set a precedent. Either they are punished and the behavior stops, or they are defiant and the behavior persists. Such is the case with us as well. Though scripture says we will be tempted, we must recognize that by resisting temptation, we are setting ourselves up success. Giving into temptation and making excuses such as, “well, just this once,” allows the desire to take root and as time goes on, sin is born. Habits are much harder to break than repenting and fleeing from a single temptation. Sinful habits are what keeps the enemy, the great tempter, in business. As scripture says in 1 Peter, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Indulging our temptations can satisfy temporary, but the gifts that come from our Father’s hands are good, perfect, and eternal. Let’s choose today to keep in step with our Master, knowing that His gifts are worth far more than the temporary distractions of this world.

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