"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
- Mark 14:38
In life, I have found that temptation can come in various forms. Some are obvious and to give into them is an active conscious choice. But what I have found is that at times, the temptations can be sneaky and we can be gullible to the ones that are subtle and easy to slip into. These temptations are quiet and easy for us to fall prey to when we let our guard down. They are especially dangerous when they almost seem innocent and insignificant, whereby our 'small' action or inaction can lead to us taking a step to the wrong path. Before we know it, we are far from where we are supposed to be.
In the book of Mark, Jesus asked His disciples to keep watch while he prayed. When Jesus returned, He caught the disciples sleeping. Despite reminders to keep watch, the disciples slip into slumber time and time again. The passage describes how their eyes felt heavy and the disciples were unable to resist the temptation to sleep.
There are many biblical narratives about temptation -- from the very original story in the garden of Eden, to King David falling into temptation with Bathsheba, to Jesus resisting the devil's temptation in the desert. This one, however, resonated with me well because I can relate to how hard it is to stay awake when I am tired. Late at night, after a long day, despite my best efforts to stay awake for something important, it seems impossible to keep my eyes open and I am overcome with fatigue. The worst part is that I am not even aware at what point I have drifted off into sleep.
When I try to form good habits to work towards my goals, more often than not, after a few weeks of good progress, I somehow relapse into bad behaviours unknowingly. For example, in trying to eat healthy, I feel so encouraged usually the first few weeks. I am motivated and dedicated. The reward is great as I feel energized, more nourished, and in better spirits. Yet somewhere along the way each time, especially when I am tired or busy, I relent to eating something unhealthy. It does not seem like a big deal and I remind myself that I am human after all, and dismiss the minor deviation from my healthy eating plan. But what happens once would happen again, and somehow without knowing when, I have fallen away from the plan and am consuming an unhealthy diet once more. Can you relate? Slipping into bad habits can be as easy as slipping into slumber.
This is similar to temptation and sin. The spirit is willing, but the flesh can be weak. Living with righteousness requires diligence, discipline, vigilance, and help from God. If we remain steadfast in Christ, we stand a better chance of resisting temptation. And when we do fall into temptation and when we sin, because we may, we should not be discouraged. We repent, and try again. We try and try again. This is the marathon in which we must persevere. And we are reminded that our salvation comes through not our actions, but by the grace of God.
Reflection: How are you being tempted in life? Is there anything you can do to stay diligent on your path to doing what is right? Pray for guidance and help on your path.
Temptation is the topic of this week's devotional study on Christian Calm Radio. Study the narrative in the book of Mark in our blog about slumber, while you enjoy traditional hymns, gospel music, and contemporary worship music on Christian Calm Radio.