Friday, July 23, 2010

What I learned about temptation from a Costco coupon

Last month, I received some Costco coupons in the mail.  I always glance through them to check out discounts on products that I buy there on a regular basis.  But this time, I hit the jackpot.  My eyes were drawn to a coupon for $2.50 off a bag of peanut M & Ms.  Now, of course, realize that this is the Costco-size bag of M & Ms which can feed several high school cross country teams and still have leftovers.  I read somewhere once that peanut M & Ms are the worst possible candy for you.  And of course, they are my favorite.


It was tempting, and I knew it.  Temptation?  I am not sure that there were peanut M & Ms in ancient Corinth, but the apostle Paul nailed it in no uncertain terms:  “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10.13)


Needless to say, I wasn’t looking for a way of escape.  It surprised me how quickly, from the very first moment, I was looking for a way to justify purchasing a bag.  “Justifying” is our way of concocting something to make it look right, especially when it isn’t.  When your brain goes into the justification search mode, you know that you are messin' with a bad dog.   What a great deal, I told myself, maybe even out loud.  I could buy them for Bill.   Did I really even think that?  I knew instantly that bird had no wings.  I could make my friend Becky’s Monster Cookies with them, which I have made maybe twice in the past six years.  They would be great for taking on hikes.  Everybody loves them.  Well, more specifically, I love them.  And since the bag is so enormous, who would know when a few here and there would disappear?  It is also always interesting to see when you are tempted, how many people cheer you on – mostly in an effort to justify their own indulgences.  A temptation always looks so good and always promises more than it can possibly deliver.  


I was not looking for a pass through the mountains.  I was ready to scale Everest.  Barefoot, if necessary.


So whether you are tempted by M & Ms, a movie that might not be good for you to watch, a pair of awesome shoes that you don’t need and can’t afford, a relationship that isn’t in your best interest,  we ALL have our soft spots and Satan knows exactly what they are.  Indeed, there are actually studies being done by researchers to identify exactly where in a store a consumer is most likely to buy chocolate.  I am not making this up.  You can probably find -- make that always find -- the means to justify your actions.  But that doesn’t make it right.  LOOK for the closest exit near you, as they say every time you board a plane.  Flee and don’t look back.  The way of escape is there – we just all too often look the other way.  “But my eyes are toward You, O LORD God, in You I seek refuge, leave me not defenseless!  Keep me from the trap which they have laid for me, and from the snares of evildoers!”  Psalm 141. 8-9


Eve didn’t have a Costco coupon for that apple.  It won’t matter, she said.  No one will know.  But oh, what a mess she left behind.  A temptation always does.

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