John A. Braun
Christian life in this world is difficult. We live as disciples of Jesus in a complex world that operates on a different frequency than we do. Our world has no forgiving God who promises not only forgiveness but also eternal life. It owes nothing to Jesus and therefore thinks only how to get the most out of life: love, happiness, fame, comfort, and family—good things.
That all sounds so familiar to us too. We want the same things, but our vision and thinking include a loving Savior and his promises. We think differently. We treasure the one thing needed while we experience what life deals out to all— whether blessings or trials.
God places us here in this world to be his witnesses. We are to be salt and light where both are in short supply. But being disciples in this world is not so easy. Agur, in the book of Proverbs. observed the problem. He writes, “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, “ ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God” (30:8,9).
In this life we are often distracted from the grace of God in Christ, but not always for the same reason. Sometimes the distractions are wealth, as Agur notes, and sometimes they are poverty.
You and I have seen and heard some who are tempted by wealth to abandon the Lord. But not everyone who is wealthy abandons the Lord. On the other hand, we have also seen and heard some who are tempted by their poverty to turn away from the Lord, either blaming him for their hardship or abandoning him because life is a difficult struggle. But here too not everyone who is poor turns away from the Lord.
No matter what challenges we face, the potential exists to find a reason to turn away from the Lord’s grace. It might be riches, poverty, fame, obscurity, disaster, safety, health, sickness, happiness, or sorrow. You can add to the list from your own experiences.
It gets even more complicated. We are surrounded by so many ideas that contradict the Scriptures and our faith. We see the ungodly prosper and God’s truth mocked or disregarded. In all this too, Satan prowls, always looking for an opportunity to rob us of our faith. He is a master of using the temptations posed by the world around us. Remember, he came to Jesus promising all the world’s wealth, and he also made use of the need for daily bread hoping Jesus would turn stones into something to satisfy his hunger after a 40 days’ fast.
It’s no surprise that the Lord Jesus asks us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” As we face the ups and downs of life, we pray that our heavenly Father would preserve our faith in Jesus. Nothing could be worse than having our lamps empty when the Lord calls us home (Matthew 25:1-13).
Our Father hasn’t left us alone to face these challenges. He promises always to strengthen and help us. He sends his angels to protect us. He also reminds us that the hardships and difficulties we must face are his discipline sent for our good to refine our faith (Hebrews chapter 12 and 1 Peter chapter 1).
Temptation surrounds us all in many different forms. So this petition is for all of us. “Heavenly Father, lead us not into temptation.” Keep us secure in our faith as your children here on earth.
John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.
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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 105, Number 2
Issue: February 2018
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