Backyard Blessings!: Life's Temptations

by Carolyn Allen

It's just a nap in the sun!
How do I recognize temptation?

A recent study group discussion focused on "Lead us not into temptation" from the Lord's prayer. We talked about how one person's temptation is not temptation to another...and vice versa. And how our weakest spot is where temptation strikes.

And in a follow-up discussion about temptation, friends and I examined the meaning of the word "tempt". The question was asked "Is temptation always sinful...or can it be benign?" For example, when we say "I'm tempted to have dessert" -- is that the same temptation as "I'm tempted to tell my boss off in no uncertain terms."

We sometimes gloss over the meaning of a word -- we take words so for granted! We assume we know the intent and usage -- but even key words are sometimes misunderstood -- and that has an impact on our understanding -- and eventually, our values.

Webster's dictionary says tempt is: 1. to entice to do wrong by promise of pleasure or gain 2. to make trial of 3. to induce to do something.

For example, "I'm tempted to take a nap in the sun." Is that benign or sinful? And is being tempted the same as following through with action?

Is "I'm tempted to sleep for three days in the sun...and ignore my chores" still benign?

When does an enticement become "wrong"? (I'm just full of questions today :-)

And that leads to examining the word "entice": 1. to attract artfully or adroitly or by arousing hope or desire.

Is temptation always "wrong"? OR... is temptation a way of life...and an exercise in ethical and moral growth?

Making choices.
Walking a path.
Refining values.
Respecting life.
Honoring commitments.

I see temptation as everyday life's "push back"'s richness testing our intent to live according to our values.

Temptation requires us to make tough choices. Nature doesn't seem to make moral just acts. The storm rains on everyone in the its path... the just and the unjust.

But even animals are "tempted" by an easy meal. And they sometimes find it is attached to a trap. Hmm.

How do you know when temptation is knocking? What choices are toughest for you to make?

Carolyn Allen is a Backyard Naturalist. If you have questions, suggestions or stories you can send her an email: Visit her web site "" at To subscribe to Backyard Blessings send a blank

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