February 18, 2021

Lead Us Not into Temptation

James 1:12-18

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father. . . .

—  James 1:17

The petition “Lead us not into temptation” (Matthew 6:13) has often confused people. It can be misread to imply that God leads us into temptation. But would God actually do that? No.

As we reflect on this petition, let’s be perfectly clear: God does not tempt us. Period.

But, as the book of James helps us understand, God does allow testing and trials. God tested Abraham, Moses, Job, and ­others. Jesus himself faced temptations in the wilderness, testing at the hands of religious leaders, and an unimaginable trial as he gave up his own life to pay the debt of our sins.

God allows testing and trials as opportunities for refining our faith. It’s not so that he can say “Gotcha!” or pounce on our failings or make accusations. Out of fatherly love, God can use trials and testing to nudge us along in our growth in faith as followers of Jesus.

When we pray, “Lead us not into temptation,” we’re humbly admitting our own weakness and tendency to stumble. We’re reaching out in sheer dependence on God. We’re asking him to guide and help us through every trial and temptation of life. We’re trusting and believing with all of our hearts that he will never leave us or forsake us but always love and protect us.

We confess, Father, that we have no strength on our own to resist temptations. Please guide and protect us. We trust that you will never lead us where your grace cannot keep us safe in your care. Amen.

About the author — Kurt Selles

Kurt Selles is the director of ReFrame Ministries and serves as the Executive Editor of Today. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, and received his PhD from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to ReFrame, he served 19 years in Taiwan and China with CRC World Missions. Kurt later taught missions at Beeson Divinity School, where he also acted as the director of the school’s Global Center. Kurt and his wife, Vicki, reside in Grand Rapids and have three adult children.

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