Fighting Temptation: A Lenten Discipline

During Lent, Rev. Patton’s sermon series at Wesley United Methodist Church is on fighting temptation and yesterday he gave us a broad overview of what he will be covering.  Jesus faced temptation while he was on earth and we can learn from his example.

Fighting temptation is an excellent topic of discussion during Lent.  As Christians, we often choose to give up something for Lent.  During my years as a pastor, I had parishioners give up sugar, coffee, pop (soda), cookies and chocolate.  Notice that all these things are food related – reflecting on the issues that most of us have with overeating.  I always encouraged people to add something during Lent:  more prayer, extra time for worship, acts of kindness.

Rev. Patton suggested that fighting temptation is like the Cherokee Legend of Two Wolves:

Two Wolves

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

So, how do we feed our good wolf and tame our bad wolf?  We need to follow Jesus’s example and stay in God’s Word when fighting temptation.  Rev. Patton suggested we should “Carry God’s word in our hearts and in our cell phones.”  What a great idea!  I have memorized lots of Bible verses and can call them to mind in time of need.  But I also carry my cell phone everywhere and, with a few touches, can have any Bible verse in front of me in seconds.  I have a Bible on my iPad, but I never downloaded it on my cell phone.  So, as soon as I got home from church, I downloaded the Bible to my cell phone also.  Now I have all the verses I need to fight temptation at my fingertips all the time.

Change, real change for the better, is incredibly difficult.  And Satan hates it when we choose to follow Jesus, so he will throw up any roadblock he can.  Staying in the Word is one way to feed our good wolf.  In fighting temptation, we need all the help we can get.