Lead Us Not Into Temptation
“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by
the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was
tempted by the devil.” (Luke 4:1)
Some scholars interpret Luke 4:1 as God’s Holy Spirit leading Jesus into the wilderness where God knew he would be tempted or tested. Jesus turned to his upbringing, the teaching of his childhood, to God for direction and was able to not only resist, but in resisting gained strength and set boundaries for his ministry. Jesus’ ministry not only begins with temptation but it ends with temptation:
“The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered
him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews,
save yourself.” (Luke 23:36-37).
Jesus faced temptation throughout his ministry, just as we face temptation throughout our lives. Of course, when he was teaching about prayer he would include asking God to “Lead us not into temptation”
Does God lead us into temptation? I don’t know. Maybe there are times when God places temptation in front of us, or maybe allows us to face temptation. Or maybe temptation comes only from the force of evil acting upon our vulnerability. For sure, temptation can be an opportunity to gain strength and confidence, and to learn and grow. For me, there is no answer to those maybes. What I do know is that we are tempted at times and we need God’s help when we face temptation.
One of my continuous temptations is the desire to do it all. Even if I am exhausted I hate missing out. When a friend or family member calls and suggests a fun event, I say yes, even though I know this event will leave me staying up til 2:00 a.m. or later, fulfilling my commitments.
Sometimes giving in to temptation leaves us in deep trouble. Years ago my younger friend, Richard, gave into the temptation to go against the rule that he was to use his truck just for going back and forth to school. His friend needed a ride home because he’d forgotten his homework. It sounded so simple. Richard would be doing a good turn. Problem was, once out on the back roads with his friend, Richard became careless. He didn’t quite stop at a quiet country intersection. The woman driving the car coming from his left was killed in the accident. Richard could never revoke his choice. To survive his emotionally turmoil, he needed God. He needed God’s deliverance from the evil of self-hate and condemnation. And God of course was there with him, in a myriad of ways.
Temptation is part of living. Mark Twain said, “The surest protection from temptation is cowardice.” When we say to God, “I am afraid,” we open ourselves to receiving God’s strength, we can hear God say, “ leave that alone, not a good idea.” God, of course, doesn’t force us. God gives us nudges, reminders, sometimes loud and sometimes a whisper. And so we pray, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. And we need to pray these words every day.