Editor's note:

Sticks and stones may break my bones, so many of us learned to chant to a playground bully, but words can never hurt me.

Anyone who has been on the receiving end of verbal cruelty knows that that is not true. Others’ words can hurt us in a lasting way. But, our own heedless slips of the tongue or quarrelsome attitudes towards others hurt us as well. It is to these particular temptations, so often mistaken as minor infractions, that François Fénelon asks us to turn our thoughts today.

To combat these breaches of kindness and charity in our hearts, Fénelon counsels two courses of action. The first, to guard against temptations in the first place. The second, to run back toward God the moment we feel compelled to sin. Both require dwelling continually in God’s grace-filled presence.

—Renovaré Team

Excerpt from The Seeking Heart

Let’s talk about the wrongs you allow yourself to fall into. I am not talking about major sins—deliberate disobedience to God on major issues is not usually a problem a committed Christian deals with on a daily basis. I am talking about not stopping a sharp word, or being deliberately quarrelsome. These things you have some control over, but you let yourself do what you want.

The closer you get to God, the more miserable things you will find in your heart. This is not a negative thing—God allows it to let you lose confidence in yourself. You will have accomplished something when you can look at your inner corruptness without anxiety or discouragement and simply trust in God. But, you should try not to let yourself fall into temptation.

There are two resources against temptation. One, be faithful to God within you. Avoid all that is better left avoided. Of course, you are not always able to avoid these situations. Some are brought to you by God and will do you no good to flee from them.

The second resource is to turn to God when you are tempted. If you find that you’ve half consented to temptation, then head straight back to God. Take the example of a child who hides his face in his mother’s bosom as soon as he sees something that frightens him.

Practice staying in God’s presence so that you are able to respond to His leading immediately. In a way, there is little to do in doing the will of God. It is true that holding back nothing from God is doing quite a bit. God’s love searches the secret places within, looking for anything that resists Him.

On the other hand, Christianity is not found in a multitude of rules, nor in holding yourself back from every pleasure. Just yield yourself to God without reserve. Live in the present moment. Let God do what He sees fit without resisting Him, and agree with God without trying to justify what you want to do. Temptation is a necessary part of a Christian’s life. Don’t be upset by even the most shameful temptation. Look at God and dwell continually in His presence—He will keep your feet from falling.

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