Protection From Evil
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. –James 1:2-3
Do we ask God to spare us pain and discomfort? Some people are eager to pray the last part of the Jabez prayer because they see it as a buffer from anything unpleasant. That’s certainly an incomplete understanding of what Jabez prayed.
James understands pain can be “trials”—education in the school of experience. We don’t seek them, but we certainly grow from them. Trials and temptations are two different categories. We accept the first for the maturity they bring, but as much as possible, we seek to avoid the second. We will be tempted, and we may even make the wrong decisions at times. But we ask God daily to keep us from real evil.
Martin Luther, the initial hero of the Protestant Reformation, knew all he wanted to know about trials and temptations. He was a shy and humble seminary instructor who never expected or sought the fame that came when he challenged church corruption. Spiritual warfare was a part of his life.
Luther gave the devil a wide berth. He constantly asked God to keep him from evil, and knew that temptation may rise from any corner at any time. Luther is said to have once hurled a bottle of black ink at the wall when he felt that Satan was provoking him.
Someone asked Luther how he fended off the evil one. “Well,” replied the reformer, “when he comes knocking upon the door of my heart, and asks ‘Who lives here?’ I send the dear Lord Jesus to the door in my place. The Lord says, ‘Martin Luther used to live here, but he has moved out. Now I live here.’” It was his version of Galatians 2:22, which reads, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”
Luther continued, “The devil, seeing the nail-prints in the hands and the pierced side, takes flight immediately.” This interesting bit of “godly imagining” provides a powerful model for facing the devil that confronts us.
The Jabez life is many things, but it’s never dull. You travel a brand new road, one that winds and has a few sharp curves. We don’t mind life throwing us a curve every now and then, but we do want to avoid real evil. It has the capacity to destroy all that we would do for God.
The best policy is to thank God for the bumps in the road, because those will make us far sturdier travelers, but to ask Him, and ask Him every single day, to help us avoid going off the road entirely due to evil or temptation. What matters most, after all, is finally arriving at the finish line.
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