Stay alert, be aware of temptations power

Voices of Religion

Posted: Friday, December 14, 2007

Robert Ozment opened his book, "but God can," warning his readers about the universal danger of temptation, writing:

"Temptation is a traveling companion of every person who walks down the corridor of life. It has no regard for custom, race, or heritage. It cuddles up to the rich and the poor. It stands beside the intellectual giant as well as the illiterate.

"It travels with those who ride in royal coaches and walks with the peasants. It snuggles up to the saint and grabs the hand of the avowed sinner. Temptation slights no race, it skips no generation. Wherever you find human life, you may be sure temptation is near."

Since no one is immune to temptation's call, we need to stay alert during times when we're threatened by its power; to seasons when we're likely to yield to its faithless reasoning.

Consider the temptations of the holiday season:

* Spending too much: We're stewards of the money we earn and are responsible for the good we can do. People of faith are always under the observation of those we owe and those we know as to whether or not we pay our bills on time; whether we practice what we preach. In addition, we have the privilege of giving part of our income to spread the message of God's love at home and abroad.

When we overspend, something has to give and often it's our giving, robbing us of the joy of sharing what we have with those in need or enlarging the life-changing outreach of our church.

God is not enriched by our giving, but we are impoverished by our withholding. A message on an old gravestone in an English cemetery says it well: "What I spent, I had. What I saved, I lost. What I gave, I have."

* Eating too much: One of the most serious health issues of our time is being overweight. While a number of factors can cause this life-threatening condition, the most likely are simply eating too much and exercising too little.

Interestingly, during the temptation of Jesus, the first test as we read in Matthew 4, involved food. Having fasted for 40 days, the challenge of the tempter for him to turn stones into bread must have been difficult to resist, but every dieter can draw strength from his discipline under those conditions and find faith to overcome.

* Complaining too much:Christmas is getting nearer by the moment and you're not merry. In your view, Christmas doesn't measure up to those you remember. You're tempted to just skip the season this year. Instead of longing for the return of Christmases past, why not focus on the positive things happening now?

Carols continue their faith-building work, thousands of hungry people are fed and efforts are made to provide homes for those who, like the one born in a stable, have no bedroom of their own. Best of all, the biblical message of Christmas in 1 Corinthians 10:13, is unchanged and every temptation is limited to what we can overcome.

Roger Campbell is an author, radio broadcaster and newspaper columnist from Waterford, Mich.

He has written more than 20 books and has had articles published in most major Christian magazines.

He was a pastor for 22 years and has been a guest speaker in Alaska churches from Anchorage to Homer.

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