Every day we pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Sit back and ponder over this verse of the Lord’s Prayer. We are asking God the Father, not just to keep us free from temptation, but to lead us away from temptation.
God knows how much temptation we can handle. He knows our weaknesses. He knows our strengths. He also knows the wickedness in others who would be our temptation. Sure, we call it peer pressure when we are young, but it is temptation all the same.
At that time, the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the Gehenna of fire. “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven. For the Son of man came to save the lost.”Matthew 18.1-11
We are expected to be like little children in our faith. That means we are supposed to trust God without all the negativity that life brings. Life brings experience. Experience brings bitterness in the world. But with God experience brings hope and peace.
As little children our father is the source of strength and protection. He teaches us the things that will hurt us, and he comforts us when we make mistakes. He warns us of the things to avoid, and he patiently watches us as we ‘learn the lessons’ of life.
The relationship between Father and children is special. The relationship God and us is just as special. God teaches us, He warns us, and He is patient and comforting. He protects us from sin as much as we are willing to listen to His advice.
When God instructed us how to pray, He taught us the Lord’s Prayer. The Holy Apostles commanded in the Didache to pray the Lord’s Prayer three times per day. It is no coincidence that we end each session with asking God to keep us away from temptation. It is about time we keep ourselves away from temptation.
The first step in falling to temptation is thinking we will always be strong enough to fight it. This is the essence of Saint Paul’s exhortation. SO LONG AS we remain faithful to God in prayer and living, He will never allow us to be tempted beyond our strength to fight.
If we have the faith and trust of little children with God, then we will trust He knows what He is talking about. God has already warned us, just as our parents warn us. The least we could do is listen to their warning and keep ourselves away from temptation.
Stop thinking you are a superhero. You are not strong enough to fight all temptation. God knows it. Your parents knew it. Now you know it. Since you never know if ‘this’ will be the time you fall, avoid temptation all together, and you will dramatically increase your chances of survival.
And when you do fall, which you will. We all fall. God always gives us a way of escape. In the Church we call that Holy Confession and the grace of God. Tomorrow begins the Fast of the Theotokos. Schedule confession with your spiritual father to escape the past. Ask the Theotokos to help you remain faithful in the future.
At all costs….avoid temptation.