Is temptation real or imagined, internal or external? Is there such a thing as a devil or Satan, or is such a concept pure fiction? Is God real?
I knew an incredible woman in Mendoza, Argentina. Hermana Montanini was quick, intelligent, inquisitive, ready to speak her mind, a new member of the Church of Jesus Christ and willing to ask tons of questions. We started teaching a second woman, Hermana Re, who happened to live across the street from Montanini, and although they didn’t know each other, they became fast friends. Hermana Re struggled with part of our law of health, the invitation to abstain from drinking tea. She really enjoyed her tea. She shared her struggles with Hermana Montanini, who taught her about temptation in a way that we had not yet considered. “Have you ever prayed to Heavenly Father and felt that your words just bounced back down from the ceiling and never got through to Him? I promise you, that if you give up your tea, you will find that it will free you to communicate more effectively with God, and he will reward you with a closer relationship with Him.” Hermana Re put Hermana Montanini’s words to the test, gave up her tea straight away, and discovered for herself the enhanced interconnection with God that had previously eluded her.
Temptation for me is a win-or-lose thing. When I succumb to temptation, I lose and become timid. I defeat myself. When I conquer temptation, I boldly conquer fear. I am victorious over myself. As a Mormon, I believe that within me, within each of us, is the natural man, which is an enemy to God and wars against the spiritual man, also within each of us, who invites us to become as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, in every way the opposite of the natural man.
If God is real, does He care that we choose His ways over other ways?
My son, Todd, thinks that God cares and that we have a responsibility to teach others about temptation. Todd works as a manager at a city pool. One of his coworkers asked for time off for a family gathering. After being granted the time off, she happened to share with Todd that she also planned to go to a band concert during the time off. In a fun way, Todd let her know that his mom taught him that any intent to deceive is a lie and that he expects her to share the whole truth next time and not just part of the truth. They shared a good laugh and decided that she hadn’t been as honest as she could have been. This will allow them to communicate as friends and as co-workers without him having to say each time, “Is there anything else you wish to share with me?” Todd feels that he successfully found a way to teach her about the need to avoid temptation at work when it comes to telling the whole truth.
Temptation is a battle. A battle with self. The arena is the arena within. It is as real as confidence, as real as bravery, as real as love.
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, …who at best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
—Theodore Roosevelt, as posted in the NCAA Hall of Champions, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
I have learned for myself that temptation is indeed very real, that Satan exists and tries with every power he has available to distract and deceive us, and that God is real and cares that we choose His ways. If we love God, if we listen to Him, we can emerge triumphant every time.
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1. Harvard Business School innovation expert Clay Christensen teaches us these same concepts in his YouTube video, “Teach People to Detect Temptation”:
2. John Cleese (of Monty Python fame) reads The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis. Screwtape is a senior devil teaching the basics of tempting humans to junior-devil-in-training, Wormwood:
3. Carlos Fusco, President, Brazil Fortaleza East Mission, says of the people in his area: “Our country has so many youth. It’s a young country. They are thirsty for something different than what the world is presenting to them.” How thirsty are you?
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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:
- Photo, tea-set—www. facebook.com/TurkmenSuratlar
- Quote, Plato-on-victory-of-conquering-self, www. quotesvalley.com/quotes/victory/page/52/
- Quote, “Plato on Knowledge And Virtue”, www. quotespedia.info/quotes-about-knowledge-knowledge-becomes-evil-if-the-aim-be-not-virtuous-a-3027.html
- Quote, “Aristotle on Courage To Conquer Self”, www. quotespedia.info/quotes-about-courage-count-him-braver-who-overcomes-his-desires-than-him-who-conquers-his-enemies-a-1903.html
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