Lead us not into temptation - Part 3
29th June 2018
This is the last in our short series on the part of the Lord's prayer where we say:
The Lord's prayer is not an individual prayer; it's a corporate prayer. We don't pray to "My Father who art in heaven", we pray to "Our Father who art in heaven". And we don't pray "lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from the evil one". We pray "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one". Real Christianity is not individual; it's corporate. Galatians 6:2 tell us to "Carry each other burdens".
Just like you and me, our brothers and sisters in Christ also struggle with sin. They also are so weak that they need to be protected from some temptations, and to be delivered from some evils. Our responsibility as Christians includes the responsibility to try to help our fellow Christians to avoid falling into temptation, and the responsibility to try to help those fellow Christians who've fallen into habitual sin to get free.
Sometimes we'll fail. Sometimes, our brother or sister will refuse our help. Let's decide at least not to judge our brother or sister when they fall into temptation and sin, but to continue to love them, so far as they'll allow us to. And, where necessary, let's forgive them. And let's pray for them, "lead them not into temptation, but deliver them from the evil one."
This prayer should help us to remember that it's our responsibility to be encouraging, supportive, patient and forgiving. We need to nurture each other. It's our responsibility to make our church welcoming, loving, peaceful, safe and non-judgemental. It's our responsibility not to hurt others, but to do what we can to heal others.
Some Christians give up because they're caught in sin and can't get free. Some give up because they think their career, or their family, or their hobbies, or their likes and dislikes, are more important than God. Some are foolish enough to get angry with God because He didn't answer their prayer. Some just let their relationship with God wither and die. But I suspect that many of the Christians who give up, give up because some members of their church are unkind or discouraging, unfriendly or critical or negative. If that's true, we're to blame.
May God make your church and mine truly healthy churches. Physical health is good, but it's much less important than spiritual and emotional health. May ours be healthy churches so that as few as possible of our brothers and sisters succumb to the temptation to stop fighting the good fight, stop running the race, fail to keep faith with God, and live a life that really isn't honouring to God, and doesn't do any spiritual good.
Let us continue to pray for ourselves and for our brothers and sisters, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
1 Thessalonians 5:23