It’s lent – grow in discipline and overcome temptation
This is the first Sunday in Lent. Lent is the period of six weeks or 40 days (not including Sundays), beginning on Ash Wednesday, leading up to Easter. Lent, which comes from the Teutonic (Germanic) word for springtime, can be viewed as a spiritual spring cleaning. It is marked with meditation, penitence, self-denial and spiritual discipline, geared towards growth and total transformation into the likeness of Christ. Lent is a time to cultivate spiritual discipline. The Lenten discipline is to build our Christian character and spirituality. May God “give us grace to discipline ourselves in obedience to (His) Spirit” Amen. (The Collect for the Day).
We are starting this year’s Lenten meditation with a reflection on the discipline of overcoming temptation. Temptation is an incitement to sin, whether by persuasion or by the offer of some good or pleasure. It arises sometimes from the propensity to evil inherent in us. Some other times, it is by external influence and enticement. Every Christian is prone to temptation. Temptation is not in itself sin, but without a strong will and discipline, results in sin.
Some practical things that we can do to grow stronger in our struggle against sin include:
• Recognise your tendency toward sin – Every man is prone to temptation and is naturally enticed by his desires (Jas 1:14).
• Run away from the temptation – (1 Cor. 6:18; 10:14; 1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22). There is always a way of escape for temptations (1Cor. 10:13).
• Resist with the Word of truth – Jesus is the practical example in the Gospel. The Word needs to be buried in the heart.
• Refocus with praise – Praising God takes your focus off of yourself and puts it on God.
• Repent quickly when you fail – Temptation can lead to sin, but there should be immediate remorse and a U-turn. Sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death (Jas 1:15).
The Bible Readings for the Day (Holy Communion): Gen. 2:7-9, 3:1-7; Jas1: 2-19; Matt.4:1-11.The OT passage contains the genesis of temptation. It is not actually the good and desirous thing that God created and provided for the good of man that is the problem, but the attitude to it. It is a craving for its abuse and disregard or disobedience of God by its means. Temptation came here through the Devil, who lured man into disobeying God by inciting a wrong perception and attitude to God’s wonderful provisions.
The Epistle discusses trials (2-12) and temptations (13-19). The two may be related, but they differ. One is testing of faith, the end product of which can be the crown of life. But the other is enticement to sin, which end product can be death. Therefore, while one calls for perseverance, the other should be fled from.
The Gospel passage is on the temptation of Jesus. Jesus had temptations that were common to many ministers today, namely:
• Abusing His position as the Son of God by seeking primarily the pleasures of the life or evading the natural course of life.
• Using His power to win a large following through miracles or magic.
• Compromising with Satan.
However, unlike many of the ministers today, Jesus vehemently refused to yield to any of the temptations and moved with a firm resolve for a faithful life and ministry (Heb. 4:15). The Venerable Dr Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba, FIMC, CMC, is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.