Daily Readings and Thought for January 16th. “IT IS NECESSARY THAT TEMPTATIONS COME”


  Is it necessary?  Surely it would be better if there were no temptations?  Or would it? Why is Jesus recorded as saying this in our readings today in Matthew 18 v.7?  Did not Jesus teach his disciples to pray “Lead us not into temptation?” [Matt. 6 v.13]  But his next words were that we should pray to be delivered from evil.  It is an inevitable fact of life that a measure of evil and the temptations it brings surround us.

There is Proverb which says iron sharpens iron (27 v.17) and Paul told Timothy that, as a spiritual “soldier for Christ” he would “share in suffering” [2 Tim.2 v.3].  It is a principle in life that all recognize – that everything needs to be tested.  Have you heard of the ‘stress test’?  Will this or that invention really be able to do what it was designed to do? 

Humans undergo ‘stress tests’ and history shows how far too many people occupying important positions have sometimes proved to be failures – sometimes – disastrous ones.  But can you really give humans a “stress test” before they are put to the test?

Now let’s look at this from God’s perspective.  He is in the supreme position of “declaring the end from the beginning” [Isaiah 46 v.10] and knows who will stand up to the “stress tests” of life.   We are reading how Jacob went through “stress tests” at the moment – God took him through – to put it simply – a character development course.  Can you sense that in your life? We can, but we both have the benefit of looking back over more than 60 years of trying to improve and endure in serving the Lord.

Paul is an outstanding example.  We note his words when the elders of Ephesus came to meet him for the final time. “from the first day I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials  … I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable …” [Acts 20 v.18-20]  Paul passed his ‘stress tests’ and sought to encourage others to do the same.  Now, not that Jesus today is primarily a warning of “woe to the one by whom the temptations come” and the need to “cut it off” – whatever the source of the temptation is.  It maybe a person – or a “thorn in the flesh” which Paul saw as a blessing, as he endured to the end [2 Cor. 12 v.7,10] saying, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” May we all be able to pass our stress tests – with the Master’s help.

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