I hate being sick. When I do get sick, my temptation is to refuse to acknowledge the reality that would allow me to rest and focus on healing. When I engage in such denial, I try to plow ahead with my own plans, and then get worse.
Use of the word “temptation” here is deliberate, since life’s temptations come in myriad personalized ways. I guess that’s why the first Sunday of the season of Lent, now just past, recounts how Jesus was tempted and what he said in response to defend himself and overcome Satan for that moment.
For years now, my husband and I have been reading the The Upper Room Disciplines as part of our daily devotions. In this past week’s readings, Martin Marty said that the war against all that opposes God’s purposes is faced and won in billions of small encounters around the globe and across time. In other words, temptations don’t end within this lifetime; but that’s not the end of the story.
If we are growing in grace, conquering our temptations is both hard work and letting go. It is a gift of grace involving authentic prayer, reliance on Scripture, and trustful following of the Holy Spirit. The path is not easy, but there is always a way through.
“Growing in grace” is another phrase for “stewarding the gospel:” relying on God’s grace to deal with each moment’s temptations and following the patterns that reflect God’s loving presence in the daily actions of our lives.
Your partner in ministry,
Written 3/16/2011 for the General Board of Discipleship
of the United Methodist Church