James 1:14 – But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.
I enjoy receiving and leafing through Land's End catalogues. For the twenty years we've lived in Florida however, serious purchase consideration has been primarily limited to light weight knits, chlorine resistant swimsuits, and various lengths of shorts. All those wonderfully warm and woolly items might as well be Indian saris for all the use I would have for them.
Yet now that my husband is considering a career move to Colorado, an interesting change has taken place in my page scanning. I now pore over pictures and descriptions of winter merchandise with the longing others might direct to the racy sections of romance novels. I imagine such previously forbidden pleasures as luxuriating in a sweater of "buttery-soft cashmere" and slipping into the satin lining of a "good wool coat," feeling secure and well cared for in its embrace.
I had no idea that my yearnings for the full range of seasons – and seasonal clothing – were so great until presented with the possibility of attaining them. And this, I think, is the nature of all temptations.
When an item, a relationship, or an experience is clearly understood and accepted as "off limits," it arouses little or no desire in us. As we shift the "taboo" to a "possibility," as we consider the sensual details associated with the desired actions or ownership, our interest is stimulated and if unchecked, becomes an obsession. The more we think about it, of course, the more likely we are to succumb to it. As written in the book of James, "Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death." (James 1:15)
Though forgiveness is available, it is far better to avoid those temptations which can lead us into sin by keeping them boldly labelled "off limits." In addition, "God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Prayer: Faithful God, Help us to be content with all that you have given us and wherever you have placed us. Root us in your word so we will not fall away in times of temptation. Lead us to prayer and a surrender of our selfishness when we consider reaching for forbidden fruit. Help us to find the way of escape you always provide. This we ask in the name of Jesus, the One who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Amen.