An Ounce of Prevention or a Pound of Cure

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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And do not bring us to the time of trial (lead us not into temptation), but rescue us from the evil one.

Matthew 6:13

Ben Franklin is credited with offering up the little proverb, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Jesus had something similar in mind when he taught people to pray,

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial, (lead us not into temptation)
but rescue us from the evil one. (Matt. 6:12-13)

If forgiveness is the “pound of cure,” then deliverance from temptation is the “ounce of prevention.” How much easier, better, and cheaper it is to avoid temptation in the first place than to pay for and repair the damage afterwards. Fire alarms and batteries are far cheaper and less trouble than house fires.

Maturity comes in our daily walk with Jesus as we begin to pray more and more for protection from temptation and not just for the forgiveness of sinful failure. An old saying goes “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission,” but that is a lie.

Just to be clear, God does not lead into temptation. As James writes, “No one, when tempted, should say, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one” (James 1:13).

Life is packed with dangers, toils and snares, stumbling blocks, traps, dead ends, slippery slopes, hidden hazards, luring desires, attractive options, and reasonable alternatives. Often, these temptations and trials directly target our points of vulnerability.

So it is good to ask God to throw debris in the path leading toward temptation. This will help us slow down and think. God can frustrate our efforts to sin with annoying interruptions. He can complicate the way with road construction, dead cell-phone batteries, broken pipes at home—anything to slow down our slide into trouble.

When our eldest daughter, Traci, was in her teens, she pushed the limits like many young people her age. Years later she described being at a party where someone offered her a beer. She took one sip and felt sick to her stomach. Her immediate response was to think, “It’s those church people my parents have praying for me.” It was simply a moment when God was giving her an ounce of prevention to save her from the need of a pound of cure—and I wish you could see the amazing woman she has become now.

God won’t prevent us from giving in to temptation because love doesn’t insist on its own way. But God can complicate the route. He can help us choose the ounce of prevention and avoid the pound of cure. So pray this phrase—and pray it often.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: James says in James 1:14 that temptation comes from uncontrolled desires. Desires are hard to control. Name some of the tempting desires that recur over and over in your life. How do you usually respond to temptation? Think over your life and remember a time when you’d have been so much better off if you had avoided temptation?

PRAYER: Gracious God, sensitize me to the presence of sin. It usually comes to me disguised as something good. Equip me with a spiritual early-warning system so that I will know when I am heading into trouble. Complicate the road to temptation in my life so that I will only need the ounce of prevention and not the pound of cure. Amen.


Dave Peterson is an ordained pastor who is the Director of Community Outreach for The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation and Scholarly Advisor for the H. E. Butt Family Foundation. He is the author of Receiving and Giving, Unleashing the Bless Challenge in Your Life. Dave and his wife, Terri, have four adult children and four grandchildren.


Should Christians (or Christian businesses) tithe? How much money should I give away? Does God want me to take a vow of poverty and give everything away? Will God punish me if I don’t tithe? How do I balance my budget of needs and wants with the biblical command of giving? If you’ve ever asked these questions to find out exactly what tithing means and how it applies to you, you are not alone. We’ll explore the concept of Tithing in this High Calling theme, and we invite you to follow along. Ask questions, offer your insights, and help us keep the conversation going.

Featured image by Sydney Agee. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.