20 Dec 2014
All my life I have been careful about succumbing to the temptations of life. I have not always been successful and have fallen into some. Oscar Wilde famously said, “I can resist anything except temptation.” We all know the end of his life.
Temptation is the hardest thing in life to resist. I have watched myself and in spite of watching myself, I have succumbed to temptation. Just when I think I have overcome everything and have stepped beyond temptation, I find myself tempted.
It is not being tempted that is difficult, because everybody is tempted. The hymn writer said, “Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin.” So the temptation is not sin, it is how I react to that temptation.
I must say I have had some abundant help from the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage whose major role in life is to keep me from yielding. She has kept me from who knows how much yielding I will never know. I do know this, I do not want to yield to some temptation and then have to face her. Enough said.
But this is the holiday season, celebrating Christmas and everything that goes with it. One major activity that goes with this kind of holiday is eating.
Now eating is something we do all the time; at least I do. It is not the eating; it is what I am eating that poses some problems. The Christmas holiday offers so many cookies and cakes and pies that I cannot eat them all, but I try. Oh boy, do I try.
“Don’t you think you have had enough cake?” She always asked me in the middle of eating a piece of cake. If my mouth was not full with cake, I would like to tell her, “No, I don’t think I have had enough cake and when I do I’m certainly not going to tell you.”
You all know where that will get me.
What I want to know is simply this; how much cake or cookie or pie is really too much? It is a simple question and I would like to have a simple answer.
Where I get into trouble is when my wife and I go to some Christmas party. I feel as a responsible partygoer I need to taste all of the cake and cookies that the gracious host has provided for us. That's just the way I think about it. I believe it would be insulting to go to a party and not eat all of the party vittles, at lease sample them.
My wife, as you may guess, has an altogether different view of it. She has this strange notion that when I go to a party, particularly when she is accompanying me, the less I eat the more I honor the hostess. According to her, I should leave a party hungry.
My idea is simply that if it is a holiday party with Christmas cakes and cookies the calories are on holiday and do not count. At least I am not counting them. I think at Christmas time bookkeeping should be put aside and the enjoyment of the season should be foremost.
If the host comes to me in the middle of a party and asks me how I liked her cake, I feel I have the responsibility to give a very educated critique of the cake. I owe it to her. After all, she took the time to bake it and I should take the time to eat it and enjoy it and critique it. Giving my honest opinion about the Christmas vittles is a very important part of who I am.
It is after the party that I encounter the greatest difficulty. That is, explaining to my wife why I ate so much cake and cookies and pie.
She does not very much accept the, “I just do not want to be rude,” explanation.
This is one of the few places in life that we differ or I should say that I stand up and differ. I know that while I am at the party indulging in the delicacies all I will get is a poke in the rib and one of her “looks.” I can handle that. After all, Christmas delicacies are worth it.
It is when I get home that I have to deal with the Christmas temptations I yielded to at the party.
For several years and I plan to use it this year, I always respond by saying, “I’m going to make a New Year’s resolution not to eat cake anymore for the rest of the year.”
How I get away with this New Year’s resolution is that I make it two days before the end of the year. And so, for the rest of the year, which includes two days, I will eat no cake or cookies or pie while the world stands.
Temptation is not a serious thing unless backed into a corner and forced to yield to that temptation.
The Bible Says, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Temptations never count unless for some reason I yield to the temptation.