And remember, no one who wants to do wrong should ever say, "God is tempting me." God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else either. Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires. These evil desires lead to evil actions, and evil actions lead to death. So don't be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above, who created all heaven's lights. Unlike them, he never changes or casts shifting shadows.
(The following is an abbreviated excerpt from Chapter 4 of Prayers God always Answers by Nancy Kennedy)
Some people say everyone has a soul mate somewhere out there. I happen to believe we can have several. After all, I do - all of them cookies...
...The other day I reached a breaking point. Actually it was the zipper on my jeans that reached the breaking point. I knew it was time. Despite our four-decade-long love affair, my beloved cookies has become the bane of my existence. It was time for us to part company and go our separate ways. Sadly, forlornly, I bid them adieu and turned to my bag of mini carrot sticks for solace. However, my heart still yearned for the silky decadence of a chocolate morsel surrounded by buttery crunchiness. A crumb, just a crumb. I flipped through the pages of a magazine, fantasizing over the full-color photos of holiday cookies and remembering only the day before when I had eaten my last one. I closed the magazine and prayed. "Lord lead me not into temptation. My spirit is willing, but this body of mine is so weak!" My craving subsided for all of three minutes; then it returned. I kept repeating, "It's not a sin to be tempted," as I opened the magazine again and started reading some recipes, waiting for God to give me strength, power and self control as he led me not into cookie's snare. "It's not a sin to be tempted, it's not a sin to be tempted".... ...Then came the big test - the Cookie Exchange. I'd been invited to my friend's cookie party and had looked forward to it for weeks. However, things had changed. Wisdom told me if I didn't go, I could avoid the temptation to eat every cookie in sight, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made that I should go. That it was good for me to go, to look temptation square in the eye and say, "Ha! Gimme your best shot- I'm ready for ya!" Yes, I'd pray for God to "Lead me not," but I was confident that he would not let me be tempted beyond what I could bear, and that he would provide a way to escape so I could stand up under it. ... ...When everyone had divided the cookies and I had filled the tin I brought (for my family, of course), I said good night and got into my car to return home, duly impressed with myself. I opened the tin of cookies and popped one into my mouth as a congratulatory token. That's when the Voice inside my head spoke once again. What are you doing, Child?
Mmmif? Mmmif doeffn't count - I'm in ffuh car." Suddenly the food in my mouth didn't taste as good as it had a minute ago. I swallowed what seemed like a rock. "But eating cookies isn't a sin!" I cried.
Whether you eat or don't eat cookies isn't the issue. Your flagrant flirting with the very thing you asked me to help you avoid is what concerns me. Don't you know by now when you flirt with temptation, you flirt with death?
"Death by Cookies?"
Death by sin, Child. The cookies aren't important, but your soul is.
That is why we have a great High Priest who has gone to heaven, Jesus the Son of God. Let us cling to him and never stop trusting him. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.
I can see myself in this place, with cookies, gossip, anger, selfishness. God would not want us to step to the line of sin, flirting with the thing that will cause us harm, even if we never cross that line. Yet I find myself, much like my children do, testing those boundaries. Some how thinking that I, in my own strength, am strong enough. I found the story of the cookie trial to be a great reminder that I shouldn't even get close enough to flirt with the sin.