Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A little good news today

Shortly after meeting Jesus, I started memorizing Scripture verses. Some of the first ones I memorized were the "Beginning with Christ" pack, published by the Navigators. This was a set of five passages with titles like "Assurance of Answered Prayer" and so on. Today's readings included one of these verses, 1 Corinthians 10.13:
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
The title at the top of the card was "Assurance of Victory" if I recall correctly.

What does this say? I could read it as an accusation: whenever I've been tempted in the past and failed, I have no one to blame but myself. Or I could read it as a promise, as good news: Any future temptation need not be yielded to. It's God's promise, in other words, to look out for me and provide a way of escape -- and he'll show it to me if I but look.

Here's something important that I need to remember. The voice of the Lord is not filled with accusation leading to condemnation. There may be a reproof -- to help me grow, to train me in righteousness, to better equip me for the work he has prepared for me. But never a finger-wagging accusing condemnation. So we can take this verse as correcting any misapprehensions about "the devil made me do it" or "the temptation was too much to resist" -- but otherwise the way to think of this is as a promise for the future. The way of escape will be there -- guaranteed by God.

This is good news. Here's another piece of good news, from the psalms:
I sought the Lord , and he answered me; he delivered me from my fears.... This poor man called, and the Lord heard him, and delivered him out of all his troubles
Psalm 34.4,6
What's the requirement to be delivered from fears and troubles? Do we have to be perfect? No, but we do need to seek him and call to him.

Many can testify that calling and seeking don't mean that all troubles instantly vanish. So what does this passage mean? I think the key message is that the Lord knows and cares.

And a life spent knowing the Lord's care brings more consolation than a meaningless (if trouble-free) existence without him.

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