By: Pastor Todd
"God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12 (NLT)
Let me tell you a story. In school, there was a young man named Joe. He was good at math but poor in spelling. Lucky for him, his classmate, Mabel, was an excellent speller and sat opposite him. On exam day, Joe forgot how to spell most of the words. He was tempted by the idea of looking at Mabel's paper.
Joe gave in and copied off of Mabel's paper, and the teacher saw him. She always knew Joe to be honest and intended to talk to him after school about what she observed. However, before class was over, the boy who was collecting the test papers arrived at Joe's desk. The teacher watched as Joe tore up his paper, looked down at his desk, and said, “I don't have a completed test to turn in.”
The teacher knew her student had decided to take a zero rather than cheat off his neighbor. Still, she asked Joe to stay after class. When the bell rang, she called Joe over to her desk and said, “I saw your struggle and am proud of you for conquering temptation. Although students who were present today are not normally allowed to re-take this test, I am giving you the opportunity to try again in 24 hours. Because of what I saw here today, with your display of character, I am offering you the chance to make it right. Don't let me down.”
Are you surprised by the teacher's response in this story? Maybe you're more surprised that Joe risked a failing grade to do the right thing. Like Joe's decision teaches us, surprisingly, temptation can have a positive effect. Temptation often builds character because it tests us.
When we resist the temptation to do what God asks us not to, God rejoices. In the words of James, He then gives us “the crown of life.” This crown is not only something we can look forward to wearing throughout eternity, it is also something we can enjoy here on earth. Every time we overcome temptation with the help of the Holy Spirit, who lives inside us, we experience life and victory.
Next time you're faced with temptation, remember Joe. Be willing to take the zero. We pass the test every time we say “no” to temptation, and we build character every time we learn from our mistakes.
Reflect and Respond:
1. In what ways can resisting temptation shape your character?
2. With today's verse in mind, take a moment to write a prayer that you could repeat in times of temptation.