You can only be tempted by something that attracts you and is accessible.
While I love most food and can happily munch my way through a whole range of stuff, I can’t stand fudge. The smell, colour, texture turns my stomach even before a taste has occurred.
This means I could be locked overnight in a fudge shop and wouldn’t be tempted at all. Other members of my family, however, can locate fudge that to an untrained eye is completely hidden.
In a similar way I can find a packet of salt and vinegar crisps no matter how well it has been hidden and if it is in the house then eventually I will succumb, no matter what the resolve to abstain might be.
As it says in the Bible in the book of Matthew, chapter 26, verse 41, ‘The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak’.
To cope with this, I try to avoid buying in multi-packs and during Lent I avoid certain aisles in the supermarket.
If they are not in the house I won’t eat them. As I said, temptation is only possible by that which attracts and that which is available.
The reason temptations are problematic are that they can end up defining us, although it is obvious that I am not simply a packet of crisps!
They can also become the goal to existence, with everything seen in relation to it. There is more to life than the gaining of a packet of crisps. And while the occasional taste is not a problem, too much or too often can get in the way of life and being able to properly engage with it.
Jesus came to give life in its full abundance. This means not being distracted by parts of life that make it anything less than that. These are the real temptations that we face. It is less to do with fudge or crisps and more to do with missing out on what we could truly be. One of my biggest temptations is seeking news of friends on my mobile phone rather than valuing the moments when I am actually with my friends.
Leaving the phone in a drawer can help with the access, valuing what is gained by not giving into the temptation is another.
How we engage with temptations and allow ourselves to be defined is part of the process of Lent. Thankfully God knows what we are like and forgives if we do let ourselves down, he will respond and ‘lead us not into temptation’.