Temptation’s Punch

February 13, 2020
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James 1:12-16

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

That quote is attributed to Mike Tyson. If you remember the success he had in his career, you understand what makes that line so good.

I think many of us, as Christians, face our walk with God the way many boxers prepared to face Iron Mike. Everyone knew Mike hit hard. Many would say he hit them the hardest they’d ever been hit in their life. Opponents understood how difficult it would be to square off and they thought they were prepared. Until they realized they had no idea how unprepared they were.

For us, that Iron-Mike punch is temptation.

First, let me say it’s a victory to get people to understand how hard it is to follow in the way of God’s kingdom. “If you’re scared, go to church,” is another line that bothers me. It’s an unfortunate notion that says having faith in God means scurrying away from the world in fear.

Faith is not a weak substitute for living in the “real world.”

The opposite is true. It is a choice to live as if what we say about the love of God is true.

Faith in God, therefore, requires courage, commitment and struggle. Tell me how easy it is to love an enemy or someone who has wronged you. And think about how difficult it is to acknowledge the wrong you’ve done to someone, how what you did or didn’t do impacted another person’s life in a painful way.

Walking with God is not a weak substitute. 

When people finally realize that, I am grateful. 

For whomever has learned that lesson, there is a new level of faith to pursue. But, as my dad once told me, new levels bring new devils.

That new devil, for a lot of people, is temptation.

We don’t talk all that much about it in church. We’re in good company, after all.

There was a younger man who had started attending a small group at church. The group would ask questions about how they had seen God, served God and failed God during the week. After 2 short weeks of coming, the young man told me he had to stop. There was no way he could talk about how he had failed God because his failing had a lot to do with temptation. How could he talk about his temptation with the people in that group?

Where else are we supposed to talk about it!

I don’t know if that young man has overcome his temptation.

Have you?

To be sure, I’m not suggesting that getting hit by temptation is something God does. It’s just a part of our walk with God that many of us are not prepared to deal with. Of course, we say we are, but then SMACK!

So, how do you prepare for temptation? 

Our spiritual disciplines help. Opening your heart to the grace of God through worship, prayer and Bible study helps more than you may realize. 

What about when temptation’s punch finally lands? You’re going to get punched, by the way. James 1 says “blessed is the man who endures temptations.” There’s no sense in that verse that you’ll be the one who avoids it.

So, what do you do then? What’s your plan for that?

Hopefully, your plan includes acknowledgement of sin and repentance. Then what? James 1 says you’re blessed when you have that figured out.

Stay blessed…john

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