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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody

LXXXVIII THE LORD'S PRAYER, IX

TEMPTATIONS

James i.12-17.

This passage from the Epistle of James is a commentary on the last petition of the Lord's Prayer. When we pray: |Lead us not into temptation,| it is, as James says, not God who tempts, for God tempteth no man. The temptation comes through our misuse of the circumstances which God offers us as our opportunity. We turn these circumstances into temptations.

Every condition of life has these two aspects. It is on the one hand an opportunity, and it is on the other hand a temptation. God gives it as an opportunity and we misuse the opportunity and it becomes our temptation. The rich have their special and great opportunity of generous service for the common good, and yet through that very opportunity comes their special temptation. The poor are saved by their lot from many temptations of self-centred and frivolous luxury, but are much tempted {218} by their poverty itself. The healthy have a great gift of God, but they are tempted by that very gift to recklessness, inconsiderateness and self-injury. The sick receive peculiar blessings of patience and resignation, but are much tempted to selfishness and discontent. The business man is tempted by his very knowledge of the world to the hardness of materialism; the minister is tempted by his very indifference to the world to unsophisticated imprudence. Wherever on earth a man may be he must scrutinize his future, and calculate his powers, and face his problems, and pray: |My God, prevent my vocation from becoming my temptation. Let me not put myself where I shall be tried over much. Save me from the peculiar temptation of my special lot. Deliver me from its evils and lead me not round its temptations, but through them into its opportunity and joy.|

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