God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong,[c] and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
Relate: I have heard dozens of variations of the story and the interweb today likes to give credit for the short parable I am about to describe either to Sitting Bull or George Bernard Shaw. Well, at least it isn’t Abraham Lincoln, but I very strongly doubt both. I will share the two best versions I know of the story so that if you want to steal one for future use, you have a pick.
One version is shared by Billy Graham. He talks about an Eskimo fisherman who came to town every Saturday. He always had two dogs with him that he had taught to fight on command. Each Saturday this fisherman would have these dogs fight in the town square and others in town would take bets. Sometimes one dog won, sometimes the other, but it was random enough that this Eskimo fisherman always seemed to come out ahead. When a close friend asked how he did it the fisherman told him, “I starve one dog and feed the other. The one I feed always wins because he is stronger. (The Holy Spirit – Billy Graham, 1978)
The other version comes down second (3rd, 4th…) hand from a supposed Cherokee tribal council meeting way back in the 50s. A young man is brought before this council because of multiple incidents of violent anger. One of the elders pulls this young man aside and tells him that his anger issues are understandable because each one of us has two wolves inside fighting to the death. One of these wolves is peaceable and the other angry. The young man asks the elder which one is destined to win that fight. The elder responds, the one you chose to feed.
React: What am I feeding? Temptation itself is not sin. It is not from God, but it is not in and of itself evil. We are all tempted. We all struggle in one way or another? The question is, do we feed that temptation? When we give into temptation, we become the midwife of evil. We are giving birth to something and then each time we give in again, it grows. It gets stronger. Day by day, sin by sin, failure by failure, we are nurturing the very thing that will turn on us and drag us straight to hell.
In the moment, it is something we seem to want but afterward, we know how much we hate it. We regret feeding that demon. When it is young or new, it might still be something that we can resist alone on our own power (obviously through God’s strength and with his help) but I am willing to bet most people reading this now have some wolf inside that has been fed so often that at this point its victory seems inevitable. If that is the case you need to confess not just to God, but also to another respected godly individual. Get wise loving help to kill this thing before it grows any bigger. Begin meeting with someone regularly who will pray with you and counsel you. And then in the heat of the moment when that temptation comes, it will be easier for you to say, “I may not win every battle but I will win this one. Right now, in this struggle… no food for you.”
I have given birth to monsters. It is so easy to sit back and talk about what I might need to do to win against temptation. It is so easy to share godly counsel with others, but I do not always take it myself. Help me to remain vulnerable. Help me to be open and honest with the people You put into my life that help to hold me accountable. Give me the strength to stand against temptation in the heat of the struggle and say, “I will not feed you today.” Help me to patiently endure any and all testing and temptation to the point it becomes so weak it is no longer a threat. Let me be holy as You are holy.