Mar 24, 2014

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MEDITATION: Life is gift and temptation

MEDITATION: Life is gift and temptation

I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in you defiled my land (Jeremiah 2:7)

A friend recently reminded me that life can be a gift as well as an ongoing temptation.

This observation applies to most things in life.

Our relationship with others, for example, is one of the most precious gifts in life. But it is a gift with many pitfalls. We can, for instance – and it happens all the time – burden our relationships with immature needs and expectations. Or we can project our many hangups and complexes onto other people. So that our relationships become strained and the other feels exploited, wounded or oppressed.

That is the temptation.

Money, material riches and prosperity are also special gifts. With them we can, proverbially speaking, conquer the world, explore new opportunities, create security and welfare for ourselves and others.

But money also has, as somebody once described it, sticky qualities. It can make us greedy and materialistic, people who constantly work and strive to have more. Material fortune also tends to make people so self sufficient and independent that they seemingly don’t need God and others any more.

That is the temptation. It is not without reason that Jesus in Luke 12:13-21 warns us against this danger.

Our sexuality with all the emotions, erotic images and passions it entails is another gift. Expressed in a healthy way, it leads us into the mystery and joy of true intimacy and encounter.

But when it goes wrong, it can become a destructive force which takes us into the wilderness of decadence and promiscuity

That is the temptation.

Our pain and suffering also have this double quality. Unexpected setbacks, disappointments and loss can leave us totally devastated, despondent and cynical.

That again is the temptation.

But suffering and struggle can in a strange way also become a gift, a furnace of affliction through which we are tried and refined (Jer 48:10). Many people who have gone through this fire, can testify to it without shame or diffidence.

Whatever life brings to us in terms of gifts and temptations – it is clear that, as followers of Christ, we need to always discern carefully and prayerfully how we embrace life and where our choices in this regard will take us.

Carel Anthonissen

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