Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12 NRSV)

The most effective way for us to deal with temptation is to avoid it.

An old Indian legend sums up our situation: Many years ago, Indian braves would go away in solitude to prepare for manhood. One hiked into a beautiful valley, green with trees, bright with flowers. There, as he looked up at the surrounding mountains, he noticed one rugged peak, capped with dazzling snow. I will test myself against that mountain, he thought. He put on his buffalo-hide shirt, threw his blanket over his shoulders and set off to climb the pinnacle. When he reached the top, he stood on the rim of the world. He could see forever, and his heart swelled with pride. Then he heard a rustle at his feet. Looking down, he saw a snake. Before he could move, the snake spoke. "I am about to die," said the snake. "It is too cold for me up here, and there is no food. Put me under your shirt and take me down to the valley." "No," said the youth. "I know your kind. You are a rattlesnake. If I pick you up, you will bite, and your bite will kill me." "Not so," said the snake. "I will treat you differently. If you do this for me, I will not harm you."

The youth resisted awhile, but this was a very persuasive snake. At last the youth tucked it under his shirt and carried it down to the valley. There he laid it down gently. Suddenly the snake coiled, rattled and leaped, biting him on the leg. "But you promised," cried the youth. "You knew what I was when you picked me up," said the snake as it slithered away.

That is a powerful little parable. The snake could be a host of attractions forbidden by God and our good sense. The best protection to sin is avoidance.


Dear Jesus, help me avoid falling into the trap of sin. Please forgive me when I do. In your name, Amen.

Ron Newhouse

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