There is a dangerous foe on the prowl looking for the person they can ensnare with their temptations. The foe? The Office Feeder.
Never heard of this fiend? Maybe not. But you’ve probably run across this person somewhere in your experience. The Office Feeder is that person who, even though they know you are on a diet, brings tempting treats to the office. They lay them out—not in the break room out of view—but in the open working area with a presentation hard to resist. They coerce you to take one croissant, one donut, just one piece of cake. What kind of evil person does such a thing? They know your weakness and set you up for a fail.
In life there are people or circumstances that come our way that tempt us to fail. What’s worse is that some think God is like the Office Feeder. That idea can come from a wrong understanding of the prayer, “And do not bring us into temptation.”
What a strange line Jesus would give us to pray, especially when you consider this passage from the book of James: “No one undergoing a trial should say, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ since God is not tempted by evil, and he himself doesn’t tempt anyone. But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire.” James is adamant: God does not tempt. So why pray that he not “bring us into temptation”?
It helps to know that within that same verse the same Greek word is translated in two ways: “trial” and “tempt/“temptation.” God does not “tempt” but he does at times “test.” How the word is used has a lot to do with the motivation behind what is happening.
If the Office Feeder is putting food out in an attempt to get you to fail in your dieting, then that is temptation. However, if the Office Feeder is putting food in front of you in an attempt to help you succeed and do what is best for you, then that is a test.
When God tests you he wants you to succeed. For example, the scriptures tell us God led the Israelites in the Wilderness to “test” them “so that they might learn.” Testing, then, is a way to learn. In that case it was to learn to trust God and to learn that “man does not live by bread alone.” God was preparing his people for kingdom service and usefulness.
He wants us to do the things he would do so that we can share in his life. We often want to know if God can be trusted. But don’t forget that what God wants to know is whether or not we can be trusted.
Tests are important. And God does give them to us to equip us to be his children who are up for the task of being his representatives in this world. A better translation of the prayer might be “lead us not into a time of testing.”
You may be thinking, “I understand why we would not pray that God would not lead us into temptation, since he does not tempt. But if tests are good for us and grow us then why would we pray that God would not bring us into a time of testing?”
That’s a good question. It helps to understand that the Lord’s Prayer is not just about getting God to do things for us but about God getting us prepared to be the means through which he does things. Kingdom things.
It could be that this prayer has to do with us pledging to be the kind of people God can trust, the kind that do not need to be tested anymore. When we have become the kind of people God trusts he will have no need to test us any longer.
Where might he be testing you now?
- He’s given you 24 hours in a day, seven days a week. How are you using it for his kingdom?
- He’s given you money. How are you stewarding it? Are you putting any of it to use in his kingdom?
- He’s given you speech. Are you “honoring his name” through your talk?
When you do find yourself in a test that is from God, he wants to see if you will do the kingdom thing— “your kingdom come your will be done” thing—or whether you will do your own thing.
The more trustworthy you become the less testing you may find yourself in. Let this prayer help you become a trustworthy follower of Jesus.
Then you can handle anything the Office Feeder puts in front of you.
Question: How have tests made you into a person God can use?