What’s the Best Way to Handle Temptation?
I began smoking at age fifteen. I had continued the habit for over ten years before I decided to quit because I was pregnant with my first-born. It wasn’t a difficult choice – I wanted to be as healthy as possible for my child. However, it was difficult to follow through on this decision.
The habit was ingrained; I smoked on the way to work, on my breaks, lunchtime and on my drive home again. Many of my friends and co-workers also smoked. My lifestyle revolved around this habit.
The decision to quit had to involve changes. I had to change my habits – I took walks on my break and at lunchtime and chewed on a sucker on my drives. I no longer joined friends for a coffee and a cigarette. I ate sunflower seeds when the cravings became intense.
I resolved to quit for the health of my baby and myself and I was determined to do so. With my new habits in place I felt confident.
However, shortly after my decision I was reminded of tickets I had purchased to go to a concert with six other friends. We had bought them months in advance and I was excited that I was going to see this group for the first time. I thought I could handle this. At the concert, the music was loud, the crowd cheering and I enjoyed the whole scene. It was great fun – I was happy that I had agreed to join them.
But once outside, my friends all lit up and the smell of a freshly lit cigarette was too much to ignore. I begged a friend for a drag. She argued with me, but after a few moments of pleading she eventually handed over the cigarette and I took a long haul. I had an immediate reaction; a mixture of satisfaction, yearning for more, and complete disgust. My conflict was painful. Although I desperately wanted a cigarette, I could not bear the repulsion I felt giving in to my craving. The guilt felt heavy. I wished I hadn’t gone to the concert. I wished I hadn’t gone with my friends who still smoked. I wished I hadn’t put myself into such a position of temptation.
When tempted, I lost. I thought I could handle the situation, but I couldn’t. I thought I was strong enough, but I wasn’t. I decided not to put myself into such a place of temptation again.
This is what it must mean in the Bible when it says to flee from temptation. Instead of thinking we can fight against it, we shouldn’t even put ourselves in that position. We should run from it. First Timothy 6:11 tells us to flee from all this.
Temptation itself is not a sin. We are all exposed to temptation – even Jesus was tempted (Matthew 4:1). However, yielding to temptation is a sin. The easiest way to not yield to temptation is to resist it and run from it.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you
(James 4:7 NIV).
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