At Passion 2011, Andy Stanley gave a great message concerning temptation. One of the lines he repeated over and over is that temptation is the act of “trading the ultimate for the immediate.”
The ultimate is faithfulness to your spouse, the immediate is the temporary meeting of a desire.
The ultimate is a godly legacy engraved in your children, the immediate might be another round of golf.
The ultimate is heaven’s rewards, the immediate is the passing riches of this world.
When we encounter temptation, one verse helps me more than any other verse in the Bible:
“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” -1 Corinthians 10:13
The implications are huge! You are not being tempted with anything unique. Others are tempted the same way. You don’t have to be isolated, you can get help not only in the form of healthy accountability, but also God PROMISES to always show you an escape route when temptation comes!
Temptation is going to come to you within moments of reading this post. You can’t do anything about that, but you can keep your eyes open for his ways of escape. It might be a phone call. It might be a gathering of friends. It might be a Bible within arm’s reach. They come in very different ways, just keep your eyes peeled.
And when temptation comes, realize that you are passing up on something immediate, not ultimate. God’s gifts are much better. Wait for them.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.