December 4, 2011
Peaceful Management of the Moments
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Living a godly life is not without its difficulty, but it is often more simple than we suppose. The natural simplicity of godliness is that it amounts to the peaceful management of the individual moments that come to us, one at a time. Some of these moments are certainly harder than others. Powerful desires can surge up and threaten to overthrow our conscience. When our principles are tested, we may find that we don't have as much commitment to them as we thought we had. Or we may find that we've just been fooling ourselves and that the principles we've been professing are not really our true principles after all. But despite these difficulties, no single moment asks of us anything impossible. Our tests come in single file, and if we take them as they come, we can learn to manage our moments more effectively.
In 1 Corinthians 10:13, we are assured that temptation's difficulties will never be more than we can bear. However strongly we're tempted, there will always be a “way of escape.” But the key to doing what's right is managing the moments, which means breaking down the larger difficulties into decisions that are small enough for us to handle. God is willing to help us, but only with the actual needs of the present moment. “One is given strength to bear what happens to one, but not the one hundred and one different things that might happen” (C. S. Lewis). God doesn't protect us from all possible problems; God helps with our actual problems.
No matter how formidable our difficulties, the right step to take at any moment will always involve the doing of something that is quite doable. Freedom means that we can take this step, and responsibility means that we should take it. If we fail to exercise the freedom that we've been given, we'll lose it and end up as slaves to the flesh. How infinitely better it would be if we learned to manage our moments with wisdom, strength, and peace.
“Character is distilled out of our daily confrontation with temptation, out of our regular response to the call of duty. It is formed as we learn to cherish principles and to submit to self‑discipline. Character is the sum total of all the little decisions, the small deeds, the daily reactions to the choices that confront us” (Sidney Greenburg).