In one of the most famous moments of weakness demonstrated in the Bible, King David stood on his roof looking out on his city, seeing everything he ruled spread out below him. In the distance he could see a beautiful woman bathing, and he wanted her. David sent his servants to find out who this beautiful woman was. After discovering she was the wife of one of his military officers, he brought her to his palace and brought her to his bed.
All of us deal with temptations in life, big and small. Sometimes we are strong and resist, other times we are weak and succumb. They vary in shape and size, in the manner they appear to us. We encounter temptations that would rock the very foundations of our life and others which can never extend beyond whimsy. All temptations, no matter the form they take, have some sort of consequence and the power to grow larger.
Take me, for example. My blog on Sunday was about my goal to drop my weight and regain my physique by May 14. Monday, I ate well and exercised. Tuesday, I succumbed to temptation. One of our fundraising representatives brought by a tub of cookie dough for us to try. At the urging of one of my students, I brought it home yesterday to cook up a batch of chocolate chip cookies. The tub sat next to me on my ride home, beaconing, flirting with me, urging me to taste it. I resisted until I got home. As I broke out the cookie sheet and heated up the oven, I brought out a spoon and dug in. I think I only ate five or so spoonfuls before my revulsion at what I was doing took over and I stopped.
I was weak. I couldn’t handle the temptation of the sweet, chocolaty goodness. My penance was riding my bike, but even with my exercise, I was still over my calorie limit for the day. To avoid making the same mistake twice, I cooked all the dough, brought the cookies to school and handed them out to kids.
David’s actions continued. After sleeping with Bathsheba, the woman on the roof, David discovered she was pregnant. In order to hide the affair, he recalled her husband from the front lines, instructing him to return home and sleep with his wife. Urriah, the husband, being a good leader, refused any comfort not afforded his men and chose to sleep on the palace steps instead of in the arms of his wife. David, seeing he had no other choice, returned Urriah to the front lines carrying instructions that lead to his eventual death. Freed from her husband, Bathsheba married David.
Another instance of temptation befell me recently. Since the beginning of the year, I have made the pledge to write 500 words a day on my novel. While there had been a few brief interruptions, all of which I made up for, I had continued successfully through Spring Break. Since then, I have allowed another temptation to sneak it and steal my writing time. Ironically enough, the temptation has been reading. While the real life consequences are minute, they do exist. I may no longer be on track to complete my first draft by the end of June, or I will really have to bust my tail to make it happen.
The results of David’s temptation were more profound then straying from my diet or relaxing a little too long with a good book. David’s temptation brought about the murder of Urriah, the eventual death of his and Bathsheba’s son, and the rebellion of David’s son Absalom against his father.
The results from my recent decisions definitely pale in comparison to David’s, but someone who allows themselves to follow temptation after temptation, never yielding, can set themselves up for a downfall equivalent to his. People become addicted to drugs and alcohol because they didn’t know how or when to stop. They allowed the temptation to become a sickness. The same goes for any other kind of addiction, be it sex, nicotine, sweets, shoes, or reading. Any temptation taken too far becomes unhealthy. Succumbing too many times allows it to change from temptation to addiction.
I know that I have to tread lightly when it comes to my eating. Too often, the temptation of a tasty treat, or the ease of not exercising, have derailed a healthy lifestyle before it even began. I love nothing more than reading a good book, but I also know that if I allow myself to, I will ignore everything and dismiss my responsibilities just to lay around reading.
It is hard to resist temptations. Most of us do it every day though. The more often we fight, resisting what it is we desire but do not need, the stronger our will power becomes. Fighting the good fight will yield positive results. On May 14, when I am perfectly happy wearing my bathing suit, or June 30, when I push the save button on my completed first draft, I will revel in the fact that I have put my temptations aside, at least for now.