I faced two temptations this week. Both start with the letter ‘P’: Pies and Party.
And both temptations came from my husband, Mike.
With the first one, Mike baked three delicious-looking sweet potato pies, leaving them out on the kitchen counter to cool.
The second was at our community holiday party. I had decided in advance how much I was going to eat and made sure that I did not go to the party hungry. So far, so good.
After we finished eating the main meal, Mike returned to the dessert buffet. Another couple was at our table and Mike brought back four slices of cake, announcing as he placed the cake in the center of the table: ”I thought I’d get enough cake for everybody.”
Now sweets are my big weakness. How could I win over temptation with sweets right before my eyes?
First, a clue on what NOT to do. In Genesis 3, the serpent tempts Eve to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Here is how Eve responded:
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate (Genesis 3:6)”.
Notice that temptation began with what Eve SAW. Temptations always begin with what is in your sight – either in your physical sight or your imagined sight.
The longer the tempting object stays in your sight, the more you desire it.
And when desire reaches a peak, you’ve got to have it. You take it.
Finally, you suffer the consequences of giving in to temptation. In Eve’s case, the suffering included the Curse from God and being kicked out of the Garden of Eden. In your case with tempting foods, the suffering may include triggering an eating binge. You may feel shame or guilt. You may feel physically tired or sicker after eating the tempting food.
Recognizing the temptation pattern is the key to overcoming it. Again, the pattern is:
- See it
- Desire it
- Take it
- Suffer it
A principle of martial arts is: “The best way to win a fight is to avoid getting into one in the first place.” The best way to do that with temptations is to get them out of your sight. Don’t bring tempting foods into your home if you can help it. And that includes in your imagination!
With the pies, I stayed out of the kitchen. And after the pies were cooled on the counter, I covered them up with aluminum foil so that I did not see them. Then I went on doing other things in another room.
At the party in response to the cake, I told my husband “Thanks, sweetie but I’m abstaining tonight.” Then I focused my attention on the table conversation.
In both situations, I felt great about not succumbing to temptation. Remember, temptation starts with your eyes!
Recall the old saying, “out of sight, out of mind.” Get the temptation out of your physical sight first. If you can’t remove the temptation, then remove yourself. If you can’t do that, then cover the tempting food so that you can’t see it. If you can’t do that, then get it out of your mind by focusing your attention on doing something else.
God gives us a promise about temptation in 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
I’ve given you a way of escape that works. You can use the principles in any area that tempts you. The question is, will you take the escape route?
If you are doubting, then ask God to change the desires of your heart so that you act with self control.
And you too will win!
Be blessed in health, healing, and wholeness,