When we hear the word temptation, the idea we often have is the devil enticing us to fall in areas of our weaknesses to certain sins. However, what the enemy meant for evil, God could use it as an opportunity for character building and spiritual maturity.
In his book, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren puts it this way,
“God develops the fruit of the Spirit in your life by allowing you to experience circumstances in which you’re tempted to express the exact opposite quality! Character development always involves a choice, and temptation provides that opportunity. For instance, God teaches us love by putting some unlovely people around us. It takes no character to love people who are lovely and loving to you. God teaches us real joy in the midst of sorrow, when we turn to him. Happiness depends on external circumstances, but joy is based on your relationship to God.
God develops real peace within us, not by making things go the way we planned, but by allowing times of chaos and confusion. Anyone can be peaceful watching a beautiful sunset or relaxing on vacation. We learn peace by choosing to trust God in circumstances in which we are tempted to worry or be afraid. Likewise, patience is developed in circumstances in which we’re forced to wait and are tempted to be angry or have a short fuse.
God uses the opposite situation of each fruit to allow us a choice. You can’t claim to be good if you’ve never been tempted to be bad. You can’t claim to be faithful if you’ve never had the opportunity to be unfaithful. Integrity is built by defeating the temptation to be dishonest; humility grows when we refuse to be prideful; and endurance develops every time you reject the temptation to give up. Every time you defeat a temptation, you become more like Jesus!”
In light of this truth, Paul encourages the church by saying, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” 1 Corinthians 10:13
When a temptation presents itself, view it as an opportunity for your present character building, not something to succumb to and hope to overcome in the future. Be encouraged!