September 20, 2016
Don’t Scratch That Itch
When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed (James 1:13-14, NIV).
Friend to Friend
I woke up that morning with a spider bite the size of a quarter. It may as well have been the size of North Carolina for as much as it itched! I was half-tempted to scrape my arm off because the nasty bite was just begging to be scratched, but I’ve learned a thing or two in my forty-plus years, and this one thing I know for sure: it’s best to NOT scratch this type of itch.
It’d be like opening a bag of chips with the naive intention of eating only one.Yeah, right!
I knew that if I started scratching my bug bite, it would be nearly impossible to stop. I would regret having ever started.
Super-itchy bug bites are a lot like temptations. Temptations are itchy! The call to us with urgent voices that scream, “Scratch me! Scratch me!” Yet, in all reality, a little scratch will not satisfy temptation’s itch at all… it will just make matters worse. When we scratch the itch of temptation, the itch doesn’t diminish. To the contrary, it increases.
The Bible teaches us that when we resist temptation, our faith is mobilized and our character is strengthened. Joseph is a great example of this. (For the full account, pause here and read Genesis 39.)
Joseph was a man of integrity who did right in the eyes of the Lord. Even so, he faced some serious temptations. His boss’s wife, Mrs. Potiphar, seduced him. Yowsa! You see, Mrs. Potiphar wanted her husband’s right-hand man to sleep with her, and she pursued him with aggression. Her temptation was a hand-delivered invitation for Joseph to sin that had itchy written all over it.
But he flat-out refused. Joseph’s heart was determined to honor God.
“My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” Though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her (Genesis 39:9-10).
Temptation chased Joseph relentlessly. Day after day.
Oh, how he must have longed for the itching to stop! To give in would be sinful and was simply not an option. So on the day that Potiphar’s wife caught him by the cloak and begged again for Joseph to sleep with her, Joseph ran out of the house. He ran from that tempting situation as fast as his legs would carry him! (And he lost a lot because of his noble choice, clothes being just the beginning.)
The big takeaway? God was honored in Joseph’s response. He ran from temptation and we would be wise to do the same. What do you need to run from today? Have you determined in your heart to honor God in everything?
Temptation comes in all shapes and sizes. It might be calling your name from your pantry – or from your computer – or in a sale ad – or from a bottle – or from another cubicle in your office.
What temptations do you face today? Name them and run the other way!
Don’t scratch that itch!
Determine in your heart that you will choose the path that brings honor to God, and call on Him for strength.
Dealing with temptation isn’t easy. When that nasty spider bit my arm, I struggled not to scratch the bite. I had to redirect my thinking to persevere through the temptation. When we come face to face with temptations, God’s strength is always available to us. (And let’s not be stubborn! We need God’s strength because our best efforts will fail us.)
So call on the Lord to help you resist temptation today. When you do, you position yourself in His peace and protection, your faith is mobilized, and your character is strengthened. Win. Win. Win.
Dear Lord, I need You so much. I constantly find myself being tempted. Please strengthen me to run the other way and give me the wisdom to run to Your arms. I want to be a woman of godly character. Help me be that woman!
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
I wish my temptations were always as simple as the itch of a pesky little bug bite! But, of course, they aren’t. Each of us will encounter some real whoppers in our lives. James chapter one tells us that when we persevere through trials and temptations, one rewards is maturity. That really encourages me! I hope it encourages you as well.
More from the Girlfriends
Gwen Smith is a speaker, worship leader, songwriter, and author of the new book, I Want I ALL, who wants to help you think big thoughts about God – and inspire you toward His grace and truth. Her website is filled with videos, posts, songs and resources that will be a deep well of encouragement to you. Click here to visit her site. (Get a FREE downloadable “I Want It All” COLORING and JOURNAL e-book when you sign up to receive her blog!)
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