Russell Moore has a new book out, Tempted and Tried. He has some profound insight on what temptation looks like. The first part of temptation “starts with a question of identity.”
Now, here is where some brilliance gets going…
Who Are You?
The first step in the cycle of temptation is the question of your identity. James told the poor and the beaten down to “boast in his exaltation” and told the prosperous and the up-and-coming to glory “in his humiliation” (James 1:9-10). Why? James understood that temptation begins with an illusion about the self – a skewed vision of who you are. The satanic powers don’t care if your illusion is one of personal grandiosity or of self-loathing, as long as you see your circumstance, rather than the gospel, as the eternal statement of who you are. If the poor sees his poverty as making it impossible for him to have dignity, he is fallen. If the rich sees his wealth as a denial that “like a flower of the grass will pass away,” even “in the midst of his pursuits” (James 1:10-11), then he is undone.
So, I’m wondering if we would learn the truth of this part of temptation (our identity being questioned); how much this would change the way many people look at missions and also live it out. I personally think it would change drastically! It causes us to ask AND ANSWER, “What is true dignity? Where can this be found? How do I lead people to True Dignity?”
Therefore, if we would see temptation through this lens it would also keep us from turning people into a “project”. It would cause us to see how we could breathe Hope into someone, whether they are physically poor or rich. It would allow us to see the current circumstance as a way to root character in the Gospel. It would give a way to see the Gospel impact the soul and the circumstance.
It just might look differently than we thought.