And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, 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. [James 1:13-15 (NLT)]
Out of curiosity, I asked the Audubon guide if people ever climb off the raised boardwalk and venture into the swamp. I was surprised when he said that orchid hunters are the usual culprits. In spite of the boardwalk’s railings and the threat of federal and state prosecution, some collectors cannot resist the temptation to possess a rare ghost orchid. Thinking of the panthers, alligators, and venomous snakes in the swamp, I replied that it would take more than an orchid to get me off the boardwalk! My response, of course, begs the question, “If not an orchid, what would entice you to step into the swamp?” Would I do it to find a treasure chest of gold or the famed Fountain of Youth? What, if anything, could tempt me to do what I clearly know is wrong?
I thought of the old joke in which a man in a bar asks an attractive woman if she’d have sex with him for a million dollars. After a little thought, she accepts. He then asks if she’d consider sex with him for ten dollars. “What do you take me for?” she asks indignantly. “My dear,” the man replies, “We’ve already established what you are with your first answer. Now we’re just trying to negotiate the price!” What does it take to tempt any of us to step into sin?
In the swamp, the Audubon Society has built a boardwalk to keep visitors where they belong. While it protects the rare flowers, its true purpose is to protect the people from the dangers of the swamp. It is, however, a matter of choice as the whether or not a visitor stays on the trail. In our daily lives, the Bible tells us how to behave and shows us the way we should go. God’s word isn’t there to keep us from enjoying ourselves—it’s there to keep us on the path of righteousness and protect us from sinking in the swamp of sin. But, just like the orchid hunters, we can choose to succumb to temptation and walk where we shouldn’t.
“What would you do for a Klondike bar?” was the question asked in the old ads for the ice cream treat. For most of us, it would take more than the promise of ice cream or orchids to succumb to Satan and step off God’s path. Satan, however, is no fool; he knows exactly what would tempt us each and every one of us. The question isn’t what we’d do for a sweet dessert or a rare flower, but we better know the answer if we were asked what we’d be willing to do for the promise of temporary things like wealth, happiness, beauty, fame, youth, health, security, love, or position.
Satan, like a fisher, baits his hook according to the appetite of the fish. [Thomas Adams]