During a political battle in the British House of Commons in the winter of 1734, Sir Robert Walpole tried to sway the House on a political issue. He spoke to one of his colleagues, Lord John Leveson- Gower. It is claimed that Walpole said, “I know the price of every man in this House except three.” It has been disputed that this is where we get the modern phrase- “Every man has his price!”
Walpole was saying that given the right leverage, or given enough money, any man could be tempted to compromise his convictions. I’m not sure how I feel about this quote by Walpole. Certainly, most men have their price. But is it really true that every man has a price? Can you really tempt any man or any woman to compromise their convictions?
Our hearts can be easily tempted
I want to say that I don’t have a price, but as soon as I make a foolish statement like that I may easily find myself in over my head with a weakness that I didn’t even know I had. My first struggle with this quote comes from the fact that I know that my heart can easily be tempted if I’m not cautious and… so can yours! This is part of the human condition. All of us have a heart that is susceptible to temptation. So, ladies don’t feel left out- every woman has her price too.
We inherited heart that can easily be tempted from our first ancestors, Adam and Eve. This is what the Bible describes in James 1:13-15. Temptation begins in our hearts. Temptation then moves from our hearts to become full-blown desires. From the desire stage it becomes sin which leads to death. If you follow the progression in these verses, the seeds of death and sin are already inside your heart. They only need to be watered and fertilized by the right temptation for them to lead me to death. I have the seed of sin dormant in my chest also, and I must daily be vigilant not to allow the seed to grow into a plant which will strangle me.
For some people temptation comes in the form of money. Others can be tempted by power. Sex is a powerful temptation that has cost many people their marriage and their reputation. Fame or prestige is a powerful draw for others. The options are limitless. Figure out what you desire most and you’ve just found an area where you can be tempted, if you’re not careful.
God’s spirit gives power to resist temptation
Is it really true however, that every person has a price? What about the man or woman who has a sincere relationship with Jesus Christ? Do they still have a price? What about the person who has the Holy Spirit of the living God dwelling inside of them? Can they be tempted to compromise their convictions? This is the other half of my dilemma with this famous quote.
The Bible describes Christians as able to bear up under temptation. In 1 Corinthians 10:13 we learn that God doesn’t leave his people to handle temptation on their own. He always provides an escape valve for them to run away from the temptation. The implication from this verse is that those who don’t know Jesus lack this escape mechanism. Eventually, when tempted long enough or when faced with the perfect temptation, the person without Jesus will give in to sin. This is not true of the sincere follower of Jesus. Since Jesus has given us his Spirit, we can resist temptation (1 Corinthians 3:16). Through the power of God’s Holy Spirit, we can run away when the temptation gets too strong.
These two seemingly opposite sides of the temptation coin- the fact that our hearts are easily tempted and the idea that God’s Spirit helps God’s people escape temptation- give us great insight into what happened in the heart of Judas on the night that Jesus was betrayed. We use the name Judas, as a synonym for a betrayer. Judas sought out an opportunity to make money from his relationship with Jesus. He went to negotiate a price to turn Jesus over to his enemies (Luke 22:4). It only took a little bit of money to tempt Judas to turn an innocent man over to die (Luke 22:5). Judas was easily tempted because his heart was never right with Jesus in the first place (Acts 1:24-25).
What would it take to tempt you?
Let me get personal for just a second- What would it take to tempt you to compromise your faith? Where is your weakness? A man or a woman is strongest where they are most aware of their weakness. If you’re sitting there thinking nothing could tempt me to compromise my convictions, then you are already on your way to falling prey to temptation. The very fact that we are so easily tempted should cause you to always be on guard. If every man or woman without Jesus has a price, then make sure that your price is extremely high before you give in to temptation! If you call yourself a follower of Jesus never forget… You also have a price. Your price however, was the blood of Jesus poured out on the cross to defeat the power of sin in your life. It cost God the death of his great son to purchase you back from your sin (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Don’t surrender your convictions for any price less than that.