Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him. 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 1:12-15
Manfred von Richthofen was a famous German First World War fighter pilot. Most people know him as the "Red Baron," a nickname he received because he flew a red tri-plane.
Perhaps we should also tell you that von Richthofen, with 80 known kills, was an incredibly effective combat pilot. That being said, there came a day when he made a mistake ... a couple of mistakes.
Richthofen's day of reckoning came on April 21st, 1918. On that day he was chasing a Canadian plane, which was trying to escape the battle. The Red Baron's pursuit took him behind enemy lines.
That was mistake number one.
The Canadian pilot did as he had been instructed in such desperate situations: he took his plane down low, skimming the tree and house tops. The more seasoned German had absolutely no problem following his Canadian adversary.
That was mistake number two.
As they flew, the Red Baron's attention was focused on his prey. He never noticed a Canadian pilot, Ray Brown, who had come to his friend's aid.
That was mistake number three.
If you read the history books, they will be silent as to exactly how the Red Baron was shot from the sky. There are those who maintain it was the ground fire, which came up from the infantry, while others maintain that Brown was the one who fired the fatal shots. No matter who is responsible, the Red Baron went down that day because he had not paid attention as he flew too far and too low.
You know there are a lot of Christians who do that sort of thing when it comes to temptation.
These Christians think they are experienced, successful veterans of many past conflicts -- which they are. They think that a particular temptation may not do them any damage, and it may not. They think they can handle the temptation without any negative consequences. In this, too, they may be right.
All too often the day eventually comes when a temptation manages to bring them down. That day usually arrives when an overly confident Christian flies too low, too long, and forgets the enemy can sneak up on him from behind.
Far better for us to be honest with ourselves.
We are saved and forgiven saints, but we are still sinners who daily need to be rededicated to the Savior. Part of that commitment to the Savior is to flee temptation and cling to Christ, the Savior who gave His life for our forgiveness and salvation.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks that You have called me to forgiveness and salvation through the cleansing blood of the Redeemer. May I, in humility, rely and cling to Him as I live each day of my life. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries