I recently had this great opportunity to go scuba diving in Honduras off the island of Roatan. It was amazing! Diving with every kind of sea creature imaginable…sea turtles, moray eel and an endless array of brightly colored fish that looked like floating candy in the water.
But the highlight of the week was easily the Shark Dive.
After taking a choppy boat ride a half mile offshore, our group dropped down 70 ft onto a reef where we were instantly surrounded by 10 or 12 Caribbean Reef Sharks. Honestly (as much as I’d like to play up the risk factor) it was all very controlled. The sharks were simply there for dinner. And no…dinner was not us...but a 5 gallon bucket filled with fish parts. After the bucket lid was removed, and the feeding frenzy ended, the sharks disappeared as quickly as they came—the only trace of their visit was a few teeth left by the battered fish bucket.
Now, the dive guides made it VERY clear before we got in the water: Keep your hands and arms at your sides and DO NOT try to touch the sharks. As controlled as the dive experience was...the truth is; they were still sharks and (given the opportunity) they would probably take a bite.
Still. I was tempted to reach out and touch one.
Why is that? Why am I so tempted by the things I know will hurt me? And not just reef sharks. I mean, why do I allow myself to be tempted by the things of this world…the stupid stuff that I know will only ruin my life? As Jim Burgen says, “We are all just 5 minutes away from making a bad decision that will blow up our lives.”
And the sharks of this world (lust, greed, envy, etc.) are not nearly as easy going as those Caribbean Reef Sharks. And the environments we live in aren’t nearly as controlled as that dive in Roatan. James (Jesus’ brother) writes this about temptation in 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; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
God doesn’t tempt us. We allow ourselves to be tempted. And while temptation may not be a sin…it IS the first step on a very slippery slope. Our temptation leads to our evil desires…which lead to sin (or acting on those evil desires)…which, in turn, lead to death.
And I don’t think James is writing about physical death necessarily. The kind of death I usually see that occurs from sin is this:
· If I’m tempted by the beauty of another woman…that can lead to lust…which can lead to acting out that lust…which WILL lead to the death of my marriage.
· If I’m tempted by the greed in my heart…that can lead to lusting after things I can’t afford…which can lead to racking up huge credit debt or unscrupulous business practices…which WILL lead to the death of my financial world.
And the list (and the types of death that temptation leads to) goes on and on. In the end, it’s pretty simple and James puts it best:
Don’t Go Swimming with the Sharks.