A Dose Of Faith
Richard G. Mendoza, MPH, PHD
Pr. Richard Mendoza works at the Central Luzon Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. An educator and promoter of health, he complements his advocacies with spiritual and values-oriented insights.
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It has been said that, “the two certainties in life are death and taxes”. But there are two more certainties in life that we can add; they are called trials and temptations. While trial is a normal occurrence, temptation is a part and parcel of life.
It is quite challenging to differentiate between trial and temptation by their definitions. Dictionaries have several meanings and they mean differently, e.g. Trial: A formal examination of evidence by a judge in order to decide guilt in a case of criminal or civil proceedings; A test of the performance, qualities, or suitability of someone or something; a sports match to test the ability of players eligible for selection to a team; a person, experience, or situation that tests a person’s endurance or forbearance.
Temptation: A desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise; a thing that attracts or tempts someone; allurements to sin; trials or distresses of any kind which test and purify the human character.
Spiritually though, trials and temptations can be used together or interchangeably and these words are widely understood in religious parlance.
What is temptation? It is a seduction to evil, solicitation to wrong. It stands distinguished from trial thus: trial tests, seeks to discover the man’s moral qualities or character; but temptation persuades to evil, deludes, that it may ruin. The one means to undeceive, the other to deceive. The one aims at the man’s good, making him conscious of his true moral self; but the other at his evil, leading him more or less unconsciously into sin. God tries; Satan tempts. (Fairbain, quoted in The Words and Works of Jesus Christ, J.D. Pentecost, p. 99).
When God brings us into a difficult situation, it is for the purpose to grow our faith. We call this a trial. When the devil brings us into a difficult situation, it is for the purpose to demolish our faith. We call this a temptation. And if we want to sin because of the situation we are in, it also becomes a temptation. It is the purpose of the devil and our own inclination to sin which turn some situations into temptations.
James advises, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:1-3 KJV)
Here, James tells us that trials test our faith to produce patience which results in blessings and that we should be happy when all kinds of trials test our faith.
Temptations divide the world into two classes; those who fail and go down under them and those who meet them successfully and gain strength of character through overcoming them. To one class, they are stumbling-blocks; to the other, they are stepping-stones. To one, they are hindrances; to the other, they are helps. It is not our temptations but the way we respond to them that counts —H. O. Fanning.
There is no reason to despair. For Paul writes: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
When trials and temptations come, remember that in our greatest moment of trouble, we need not fear nor panic because the power of God’s Spirit will enable us to endure the crisis. Jesus also promised us; “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So, don’t be troubled or afraid. (John 14:27)
Wherever you go, and whatever you do, you can be sure that God is watching. He knows your deepest thoughts and your most hidden secrets. God sees all. You cannot fall beyond the reach of His grace. No matter how great your trials and temptations are, God’s power is greater.
“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:12).