OK, sports fans, we have changed petitions. We are now on to the 6th petition of the Lord’s prayer, the ever popular, “lead us not into temptation” or the more contemporary “save us from the time of trial.”
Either way you phrase it, I am for it. I have never been much for trials and quite frankly temptation… well that is just too darn tempting.
Seriously to the best of my memory, this is one of the first theological humdingers I wrestled with. As a comedian once noted, “lead us not into temptation, pffftt… I get there just fine on my own!”
Honestly this was the phrase that got me thinking, ok, well maybe one of the things that got me thinking. Does God lead people into temptation… certainly not, does God allow us to go through trials, ummm…. well I think the answer would have to be yes?
Testing and temptation do happen. I think we will always struggle to some degree on God’s role in this. Ultimately we do have to remember what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:12-13.
“So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. 13No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.”
Our hope is that even if we are tested, and tempted God will not let it go beyond our capacity to endure.
In other words I believe this passage is there not as a theological statement about how God works in trials and temptations, but to reassure use that God is for us in all things. The Message puts the end of the 1 Corinthians verse this way… Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence. When we pray this prayer and this petition, we are asking to grow our God-confidence.
Luther in his explanation of this petition lists “despair” as a temptation that we as God to protect us from. This struck me as odd for the longest time. That is until I was getting ready to preach on this petition last week and I came across something that listed despair as the opposite of pride. Now pride we know what a temptation that can be, but despair?
Well think of it this way, if the sin of pride is that we feel that can do it on our own, we are god like and do not need God or his salvation. Then the sin of despair is that we are good for nothings that not even God can love or save. Both are real situations, I have seen them from inside and observed them in others. I think it is important to stress that we are not talking about depression here per se, but a sense of worthlessness, of un-lovedness. In this prayer we pray “save us from the time of trial, or Lead us not into temptation” ultimately I think we are asking God to walk with us each step of the way growing our “God-confidence” as we seek to become what we already are in Jesus Christ.