"Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak." -- Matthew 26:41 (NLT)
I was as close as I dared to get.
Dog kennels, chicken coops, barns, and old sheds surrounded my maternal grandparents’ old farmhouse. And each place provided ample room for wasps and hornets to construct their nests.
Not having much to do, my cousin and I dreamed up games and adventures. One of them involved taking rocks or dirt clods and throwing them at wasp nests. At least we had the good sense not to get too close when we did. Since we stood at a safe distance, the wasps never flew far enough to find and sting us. Had we stood closer, they surely would have taken their anger out on us—perhaps more than once.
Jesus warned His disciples about getting too close to the sting of sin. He agonized in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane just prior to His arrest, crucifixion, and death. The disciples, on the other hand, slept. They lingered too near the sting and gave in, tired though they may have been.
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A commonsense approach—although easier said than done—for avoiding the sting of sin involves staying away from situations, and sometimes people, that make it easy to fall into sin. Just as my cousin and I weren’t forced to throw objects at wasp nests.
Each of us has our weaknesses. If we don’t know what they are, experience will show us. Once we learn them, avoiding tempting situations keeps us from being stung. James says to resist the devil, and he will flee from us (4:7). Through the power of God’s Spirit, we can resist. God also promises not to let the temptation get so severe that we can’t resist it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Flirting with evil is foolish, just as throwing rocks at wasp nests was. Fortunately, I never got stung, but I’ve not been so lucky with sin. When I’ve flirted with it, I’ve often been stung by it.
Although God forgives when we’re stung, He often allows the consequences to linger—as does the pain of a wasp’s sting. To avoid the consequences, I must avoid the sting. Pursuing holiness helps me achieve this. Our bodies are temples of God’s Spirit and should be kept clean from stinging thoughts, attitudes, and actions.
Ask God to help you avoid the daily stings of sin. His power will give you success.