A couple of weeks ago I was reading through my usual cartoon strips in the newspaper, when I came across a funny T-shirt quote. It read, ‘Do not lead me into temptation. I can do it myself!’ I couldn’t stop laughing for some time after reading it. But actually how true it is! We just keep falling into temptations, one after the other. And for some, it is so painful to give-in to temptations. We feel so guilty every time we fall; we curse ourselves and sometimes we even accuse God for giving us such temptations.
A few days ago in a sermon during the Holy Mass, I heard something radically different. The priest asked us to thank God for temptations. I was shocked when I heard that. “Thank God for temptations?! Why??” Then he went on to explain, telling something that was really an eye-opener for me. He said temptations are not bad, evil, sinister things or situations. Instead they are an opportunity – opportunity to do good or bad. Every time we face a temptation, it gives us an opportunity to either fall for it and do bad or to resist it and do something good. How we look at it depends on us.
His sermon reminded me about one of the most beautiful thing that God gives us – the freedom to choose. He never forces us to do anything. He says, “Today I am giving you a choice between good and evil, between life and death.” (Deuteronomy 30:15) And He leaves the choice open to us. We can choose either, but what we go through depends on the choices we make. During a major portion of my growing up I made the wrong choices, misused the freedom God so lovingly gave me. And I faced the consequences as well. Each day I was going deeper and deeper into the filth, unable to see goodness in myself, others and in God; unable to experience peace, joy and love; unable to stop myself from destroying whatever good was in me, unable to stop my life from becoming bad to worse. Till one day I met God and decided to follow Him. Decided to choose life. And life has not been the same since then.
“I am now giving you the choice between life and death, between blessing and curse, and I call heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Choose Life!” (Deuteronomy 30:19) God wants us to choose life, but doesn’t force it upon us. He requests, He pleads us to make the right choice. And He values each decision that we make so much that He calls all the heaven and earth to witness it, still hoping that we make the right choice.
In one of the retreats the preacher asked us a seemingly simple question. “In a fight between a good dog and a bad dog, which dog do you think will win?” Many of us said bad dog and many good. But his answer was a bit different. He said, “The dog whom you feed will win.” In us also there is a bad dog and a good dog, the human spirit and the Holy Spirit. Who wins depends on whom we feed, depends on the choices we make daily.
So the next time you decide to sleep a little bit more in the morning and miss the Holy Mass, the next time you choose to give reading the Bible a miss since you have other ‘important’ things to do, the next time you are about to open your mouth to speak ill about others, to abuse, to lie; the next time your hands hesitate to help someone, the next time your eyes want to gaze at things you should not, the next time while browsing the net you are about to click on a link, the next time you are going to abuse your own body, the next time you are going to hold that bottle in your hand, the next time you are going to get angry, the next time your mind goes astray, the next time you decide to disrespect your parents or elders, the next time you choose to hold grudge against someone, the next time you are going to do something thinking no one will come to know about it, just pause for a second and ask yourself – To do or not to do?, Should I or should I not? And you will hear a still small voice inside telling you what is right for you, telling you to choose good, telling you to choose Life! The choice is yours.
The Lord loves you infinitely, unconditionally, eternally. But experiencing His love is your choice. Choose Life! Choose experiencing His Love!