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What to Do When You Face Temptation

The benefit of choosing faith over gratification

Temptation

I have a bug bite on the arch of my foot. It is driving me nuts. All day long I know it is there, and each step I take chafes the bite so that it itches even more. The temptation to scratch is ferocious. 

I have taken an antihistamine. I have applied tea tree oil (it works!) to reduce the itch. When I sit down at my computer I put my foot on an ice pack to reduce the swelling. And still, the temptation to scratch is with me, every hour of the day. 

There’s a lesson here. If my brain weren’t so fixated on the sensations in my foot, perhaps I’d learn what I need to know. I suspect it has something to do with temptation, and how it works its way into our nervous system. Or it might have something to do with how close itching is to pain. This much is certain: It’s hard to think clearly in the midst of temptation. It’s hard to distinguish good from bad, because so much of my brain is absorbed in simply dealing with the drama. 

The only way I know of to handle this is to focus as much as I can on keeping the consequences clear. I don’t scratch, for the simple reason that my dread of making matters worse exceeds my desire to satisfy the itch.

It’s not a bad rule of thumb (or foot), actually. When tempted, do what’s best in the long term. Choose God over pleasure, and opt for faith over gratification. You can’t always make an itch go away, but you can always make it worse. Wait it out, instead. For Jesus’ sake.

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