Tempted by Acceptance
“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:13–15 ESV)
As we continue to look at our desires and the ways in which we are tempted to sin, we must be willing to recognize that our perception is not synonymous with reality. What we see and feel can be misleading; the promises of God cannot. For this reason, in every situation in which we are tempted, we must recognize the lie and remember the promise.
The Desire: People want to be accepted.
When I say “people want to be accepted,” I mean we want people to like us; we certainly do not want to be excluded or alone. Think of your childhood and consider the subject of partying. I am sure that we have had adults tell us to beware of partying. Do not go to clubs or parties with worldly people, they say. That is the behavior we are told to avoid because of the sinful things people do in those settings.
But have you ever stopped to think about why people would go to a club or party in the first place? One answer is social acceptance. People get to be a part of something. It feels good to be invited, to be a part of a group, to have things in common, and to feel wanted. In fact, none of those things, at their basic level, are wrong.
It is not wrong to want to have things in common with other people, to be accepted as a part of a special group, to feel wanted and valued. We know this because God promised to fulfill that very desire! God sanctified a special group of people where we can have things in common and feel wanted and valued, where we do not have to feel excluded or alone.
Here is the critical question: is that desire being met the way that God intended? If it is not, the desire does not go away. Eventually, we simply find another way to fulfill it. That is why it is not okay to just cut out the people who are negative influences. It is not okay to just leave the scenes where sin is all around us. It is not okay to just cut out group activities we used to enjoy. All that does is leave a gaping hole in our lives.
If we do not fill the gap the way that God intended, we are likely to replace one sinful association with another. So recognize the lie. The lie is that you have to get people of this world to like you to be accepted, to be a part of something special. But remember the promise. If you are a child of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords already accepts you! And you are a part of something special—His kingdom!