Confession: I’m not so great at reading my Bible. I’m trying to get better at reading it on a consistent basis, but even then I don’t have a plan. Instead I haphazardly flip to a page and dive in. The funny thing is, God uses that so well for me. Yes it might not be the most self-discipline practice, but for where I am now, God is using it.
The other day God led me to Matthew 16, and as I looked back I didn’t even recall where it was that I had read about Jesus calling out temptation. Instead I meditated only on His words and how perfectly they fit recent situations. So when I wanted to look back at this section, I flipped haphazardly again through my Bible with no luck. I knew where on the page it rested, and that is was somewhere in Matthew… or perhaps another Gospel?
That’s where my practice falls short and might need to be improved… alas, Google!
So I looked back:
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
What stood out to me about this passage and how bluntly Jesus called out temptation. He was quick to identify this potential stumbling block without care or concern for how His disciples might respond.
Recently I have felt surrounded by gossip and quarreling, yet I haven’t been able to say anything. I’ve stayed quiet, safe on the sidelines. I didn’t know what to say, how to say it, and even whether I should say anything. Yet in conversation with a wiser council, I was given the words. And reading through this scripture, I was given the conviction.
It’s not about how it will be received by others. Yes, they might be a offended, but aren’t we all offended when we are called out for our sins? I’ve been allowing my discomfort to rule my character instead of the other way around. I’ve been fearful of losing my status among peers instead of cherishing my status in God’s kingdom.
Though I haven’t been presented the opportunity to act in this specific situation, I hope that I will continue to hold these words close and look around me for temptations I’m falling into. How quickly we could stop the defaming of our character if we simply called sin out for what it is.
No matter your personal struggle today, this week, this month: have the courage to identify temptation, confront it, and turn away from the circumstance if things don’t change.
These steps really make the struggles of this world so much simpler than we ourselves desire them to be. I continually think there must be a way to please everyone, to prod delicately, and to save face. Jesus, as our example, spoke boldly and by His very character maintained the friendships that God desired for Him.
We are surrounded with people, circumstances, and individual interactions that are meant to shape our character. Will we let God use them to draw us nearer to His heart, or will we let satan trip us up in confusion and doubt?