The other day, I wanted to be adventurous so I decided I was going to make beef empanadas. I found a recipe and I went to the grocery store and bought all the items I needed.
After coming home, I began the task of making the food. I began to make the filling. I cooked the beef and added the onion, red pepper, potato, spices, and green peas. Then I added water and broth and simmered down the food.
Next, I needed to put the filling in the dough. Now, I didn’t make the dough from scratch. I bought pie dough. After putting the filling in the pie dough and glazing it with egg wash. It was ready to bake.
I set the stove to pre-heat and put my empanadas in the oven. Great! Everything was going well until I noticed that smoke was coming out of the oven. At that point, my mother came into the kitchen and noticed it too. She then said to me, “Tina that is not parchment paper, that’s wax paper!”
“What?! But they look the same!”
We opened the windows and lowered the temperature. The good news is they were cooked, but we needed to swap out the paper for the right one. I checked the paper. My mother was right. I had used wax paper not parchment paper and that was the reason for the smoke. I felt terrible for using the wrong paper but told myself next time I will check the box to make sure I use the right one.
Our walk with God is like using the right paper when we cook. On the outside, the choices we make day to day might look right, but they can be cop-outs or bad substitutes for the real thing. We can create a lot of damage and pain in our lives because we are not listening to God. If my empanadas cooked in the oven with the parchment paper for more time, the house could have caught on fire.
That is why giving in to our temptations does not work. It will never yield the best outcome in our life. Instead, giving into temptations and then sinning against God and others, are imitations of God’s plan and blessings in your life. On the outside, they look okay, but in the end, they lead to pain.
How do we know the fake choices from the true choices in life? We need to have a daily relationship with God, learn God’s Word, and then practice those truths in our day-to-day life.
A good example of someone who did that was Joseph in the Bible. He knew the difference between right and wrong, so when he was tempted, he remained steadfast before God and didn’t give in. How did he do it?
1. He remembered the risks involved. When Potiphar’s wife tempted him sexually, Joseph did not give in. The Bible says, “But he refused…With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care” (Genesis 39:8). He thought about how his actions would impact his relationship with his master. When we are tempted let’s remember how will this action impact the people around us. How will this decision affect my spouse, kids, friends, family, and co-workers?
2. Remember what will God think of your actions? Joseph told Potiphar’s wife, “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9). Most people only think about how their actions will impact them. Then some people think about how their actions impact others. The most important scale is what will God think if I do this? When I was traveling to Turkey, I needed to see a doctor and they charged me about 143 Canadian dollars to see the doctor and get medication. When I arrived home in Canada, I filed for my money because I had medical insurance. I did everything correctly. I put in the claim, got an email confirming my claim, and waited. Then one week later I got an e-transfer from the company for $1,430, not $143. Someone from the claim company calculated the claim wrong. I had two choices; I could keep the money to myself and not say anything or call them and let them know that they filed the claim wrong. I called them to let them know about the mistake. The agent on the phone said to me, “Nobody has ever called me about something like this,” I said to her, “I know, but I am a pastor and I need to tell you the truth and do what is right.” They sent me a letter asking for the money. I sent them the cheque and one month later the cash was returned. Why did I do that? Because even though I could have kept the money and nobody would know about it, I knew the one person who would know what I did was God, and that was more than enough to be truthful.
3. Keep saying no. Joseph was constantly being tempted by the woman about the same thing. The Bible says, “And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her” (Genesis 39:10). Every time he said no. We need to do the same thing. When faced with temptation, the answer needs to be: no, no, no, and no.
4. Protect yourself. Joseph was tempted by her again. “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house “(Genesis 39:12). The Bible says he ran. This is key. The one choice we have is to flee. That is what he did. Whatever tempts you, just flee. If it’s money, don’t get credit cards. If it’s jealousy, stay away from social media. If it’s sexual sin, don’t look at images, movies, or shows that show content that will cause you to sin. Whatever it is, be like Joseph, just flee.
5. Remember the reward. Initially, Joseph was thrown into jail for the lie of raping Potiphar. But in the end, God was the one who elevated Joseph to become second in command in Egypt. He had power, money, wealth, and relationships. When we stay true to God, despite, pain, loss, and suffering, God will lead us to rewards like – relationships, power, assets, and blessings –Why? Because God can trust you to be a person of integrity.