.....So, temptations should elicit from our hearts a joyful response, an embrace of the fiery trial that purifies our faith and produces a perfection that would otherwise not be attainable. A strange equation nonetheless. Circumstances arise in our walk that present themselves to us in such a manner that we are tempted. If we define "temptation" using the Apostle James' own words we are told that temptations come "when we are drawn away by our own lusts and enticed." Our own appetites define the temptation that desires to pull us away from the simplicity of devotion to Christ. The temptation is custom created by our own soulish weaknesses. We know that the enemy has been watching our lives very closely. In fact, I believe that just as we are assigned a guardian angel at birth, we are also followed by the enemy's minion for the purpose of thwarting the plan of God in our lives. Perhaps the old cartoon depicting the angel on one side of our head and the little red-suited devil on the other, both whispering into our ears ,is not all that fictitious.
Regardless, the spiritual battle known as temptation is real and the pressure can be severe. The enemy wants desperately to rob, steal and destroy. The Lord wants us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of His truth. I must admit I have been and continue to be tempted in various ways. And as I am aware of each temptation, I have a decision to make. Usually, "counting it all joy," is not high on my list. On a good day, I stand quoting scripture and rebuking the devour-er...on a bad day I find myself dissolving into tears, repenting for entering into the snare of the enemy. But, "counting it all joy?"....not so much...
Now, we know that Jesus was sinless, therefore the temptations He endured did not come because of moral weakness. He was, nevertheless, a human being. He was made of flesh and blood just as we are made of flesh and blood. Hebrews 4:15 clearly states: For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points like as we are, yet without sin. When Jesus was tempted he used the Word of God to push back satan's attempts to get Him to alter the plan of God for His life. In one instance, however, we do have recorded that He "counted it all joy." Perhaps, it was the most intense time of Jesus' earthly battle: the garden of Gethsemane. The Bible tells us that there was so much pressure on our Lord that the pores of His brow poured forth His passion in great drops of blood.
Jesus was not a wimp. A skilled carpenter, He was accustomed to heavy lifting and long hours. Yet, the thought of the weight of all the sins of the world upon His sinless soul was crushing. He pleaded with the Father that if there be another way...yet, from deep within His innermost being came the eternity altering words: "Not my will but thine." He could have turned back, He could have called ten-thousand angels, He could have...but He counted it all JOY! Hebrews 12:2 declares: ...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the JOY set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Alleluia! It was the joy of the Lord that gave our Lord the strength to go to the cross. And it will be the same joy that brings us victory in our time of trial and temptation.
As we combat the devil with joyful expectation of our assured victory, we are developing much needed patience. And as we develop patience we become perfect and entire wanting nothing. Incredible. Our faith is tried with temptation, by enduring joyfully, patience is produced in our lives and eventually we are perfected and in need of nothing more. Shall we then ,my brothers and sisters ,count it all joy when we are confronted with many different kinds of temptations? Yes and amen! We shall be like Him in every way, conformed to His image. Always remembering that : the God of hope will fill you with all JOY and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13) And .."though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious JOY, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." (I Peter 1:8-9) AMEN!