Keep Your Eye on the Prize

James 1:13-15 – When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

John 10:27 – My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

Hebrews 12:22 – fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jimmy, the excited 7-year-old soccer player swiftly gained possession of the ball, ran as fast as he could with a roaring crowd behind him cheering what he couldn’t understand at the moment. They yelled and yelled as he dashed in and scored.

It was such a big moment for him, so joyful that even the other team celebrated with him, but for different reasons. The only issue is, he scored on the wrong goal. He was so excited for the game that he couldn’t see his coach trying to redirect him. His eyes were just focused on the moment of getting the ball and scoring. This can be our image as Christians, but the repercussions are far more weightier than a bit of embarrassment.

The Apostle James lays before our eyes a very vivid picture of the process of temptation. We learn many things from this, but to be brief, we look at the fact that being tempted isn’t wrong. It’s not the sin in of itself. But it leads to sin.
Like the story of the child scoring on the wrong goal, a study of the Greek helps us see that sin(hamartia)is a lot like what he did- missed the mark. So how do we appropriately hit the mark? Like little Jimmy would have benefited from, we listen to the voice of the one trying to direct us, ie we fix our focus on him-Jesus.

Though the temptations around us may seem sweet like the excitement of scoring a goal, if what we’re trying to do takes us away from Christ, it’s not really a gain at all. In the end, we need to hold onto the face that no matter the sweetest sin, God is better.