Opening Prayer: “Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.”
Daily Scripture Reading:
- Genesis 39:10-12
- Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28
- Luke 22:40
- I Corinthians 10:12-13
- James 4:7
I love to garden but I hate to weed. Every spring, I’m discouraged by how overgrown the garden has become while unattended. Before the fun of buying the vegetable plants and digging in the dirt, the big, ugly weeds have to go. I don’t have to look hard to find them. They are obvious, and when they are gone, it makes a huge difference in the garden. Then there are those pesky little weeds that pop up overnight after the garden has been planted. Pulling those usually requires getting down on my hands and knees and plucking them up one by one until my fingers are sore. They aren’t as obvious and it wouldn’t make a huge if I ignored them for a few days. But eventually those little weeds can choke out the harvest and change the landscape of the garden as well.
Temptation comes in all shapes as sizes too. Joseph’s temptation was obvious. Potiphar’s wife was forward and relentless in asking him to come to bed with her. There was nothing subtle in the seduction and there wasn’t a subtle escape route either. We see Jospeh literally running out of the house as she clutched his coat.
Falling to the “big” temptations make a big difference in our lives. Adultery, addiction, murder, stealing- these transgressions are frowned on even in secular culture and can certainly change the landscape of our lives, our witness, our legacy. The longer we walk with Jesus, the farther away those “big” temptations usually become. We learn how to guard ourselves, we weed out the opportunities, and as Jesus directed His disciples in Luke 22:40, we pray not to fall into temptation.
But then there are those painstakingly “small” temptations. We are tempted to worry, to become envious, to yell at the kids, to hold a small grudge, to exaggerate a bit, to tell a “little white lie,” to watch that questionable show everyone is talking about, to have another glass. Just like those little weeds in the garden, the small temptations leading to subtle sins can choke out God’s purposes and a life of integrity over time as well. In God’s economy, all sin is missing the mark of holiness. There is no “big” and “little,” just right and wrong.
Escape routes comes in all shapes and sized also. We may not find ourselves losing our coats as we run out of a room, but we are told to flee the devil. It may be as simple as taking a deep breath before speaking, walking away from a conversation, turning the TV off, refusing to have that conversation in your head. Dramatic or subtle, big or little, God will provide a way out!
Today’s Big Questions: What are the temptations coming at you today? Have you wrongly made a distinction between “big” and “little” temptations? Are you making excuses for ignoring small sins? Can you identify the escape routes God is providing?
Prayer Response: Today take a moment to ask God to deliver you from each temptation you identified by name. Ask your Heavenly Father to make your escape route abundantly clear. If you are willing, speak to a trusted friend and ask for accountability with the temptations you are facing in this season.
Optional Action Step: Go outside and pull a few weeds in the garden, yard, or flower bed. Think about the intentionality and persistence it takes to keep weeds out. Think about how you can be more intentional in recognizing temptation in your life before it becomes sin.
Closing Prayer: “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21