No one who is tested should say, “God is tempting me!” This is because God is not tempted by any form of evil, nor does he tempt anyone. Everyone is tempted by their own cravings; they are lured away and enticed by them. Once those cravings conceive, they give birth to sin; and when sin grows up, it gives birth to death. Don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all. He chose to give us birth by his true word, and here is the result: we are like the first crop from the harvest of everything he created (James 1:13-18, Common English Bible).
I can resist everything except temptation. Oscar Wilde
Do you remember the character Geraldine, made famous by the late comedian, Flip Wilson? One of Geraldine’s favorite lines was, “The devil made me do it.” Just about every time Wilson brought out the character ( a character for which it took him twenty minutes to prepare, including make-up applied by a cosmetologist).
I remember the popularity of “The Devil made me do it” along with several other lines like “Here come da judge” and “What you see is what you get.” Wilson even had a Geraldine comedy album titled, The Devil Made Me Buy This Dress. I always enjoyed Flip Wilson, particularly Geraldine.
“The Devil Made Me Do It” was fun. The result was lots of merchandise that sported the now famous saying. When Wilson and “Geraldine” first started saying, “The Devil Made Me Do It” I didn’t think much about it. After all, I was a teenager and it didn’t seem like something that was a very big deal. It was just something that was funny.
At some point in my life, the idea shifted from “the devil made me do it” to “God tempted me to test me.” If true, it was a test I failed, miserably, again and again. I have never been very good at overcoming temptation. Whoever was tempting me, the end result on my part was usually a horrible, dismal failure.
Then one day I read the Scripture above and it changed something in my way of thinking. “No one who is tested should say God is tempting me! Because God is not tempted by evil by any form of evil, Nor does He tempt anybody…” Wow! God doesn’t tempt me? That came as a bit of a surprise.
An even bigger surprise came with the next few words. “…Everyone is tempted by their own cravings; they are lured away and enticed by them. Once those cravings conceive, they give birth to sin; and when sin grows up, it gives birth to death. Don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters…” Oh! I am actually tempted by myself? That would have to mean the devil didn’t make me do it!
Since then, as I have given it some thought, I have come to the understanding that there is temptation that comes from the forces of evil in the world. But, while that is true, it is also true that “The Devil Made Me Do It” can easily turn into an excuse where I can take the blame off myself and lay it in other places even though far more often than not, I alone am guilty when I fall into temptation.
What I need to do is, remember to be thankful for all those good and perfect gifts that come from God and to prayerfully use those gifts to help me conquer those temptations. When I can overcome at least some of my temptations, I will be a better person for the effort.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Grace and Peace,
Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved