Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What Do You Trust More? - A thought about temptation

No, I don't observe Lent. Yes, I love meat, alcohol, punk music, coffee, and plenty of other luxuries, but I also love Jesus and try to live a life of repentance. Why make a 40-day event of it? I don't mean to make anyone feel ashamed if they observe, I only want to explain how I feel about it.

However, I have thought a little about fasting and temptation after reading Luke 4:1-13. In it, Jesus fasts for 40 days. At the end of that time, the devil tempts him saying, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread."

Now, it's the end of 40 days. Jesus has finished his fast. Come day 41, most people would go crazy celebrating Fat Tuesday part two, no matter what day of the week. Instead, Jesus says, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone.'"

Later, the devil shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in a moment. He tells Jesus, "To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours."

Since grade school, I wondered what made this so tempting. Wasn't Jesus already God? What more authority and glory did he need? I think the temptation might have been for Jesus to take his rightful place as ruler of the world before God's appointed time, certainly before his death and resurrection. So Jesus replied, "It is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'"

After this, the devil takes Jesus to the top of the temple and turns up the persuasion. "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'"

Of course, this pissed me off when I first read it as a kid. If the devil can convince me to sin using scripture, who else can? How many people twist the Bible to deceive others? The answer is, sadly, many. But Jesus knew the context of the Bible as a whole. While God made promises to guard and protect, He also made it known we could already trust Him. Jesus said as much when he replied, "It is said, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

Satan attacked three major areas of security. People want their basic needs met, they want control by power or fame, and they want to know God cares about them. If we feel afraid, stressed, or insecure, we sometimes look for the easy way out. We'll do whatever it takes to eliminate those feelings. But I think when we decide to do this, we demonstrate a lack of trust in God to take care of us. Jesus wrestled with this and chose to trust what His Father had said in scripture.

I know I've already thrown in a lot of comments, but I wanted to ask one specific question. Do you trust what God says more than how you feel?

1 comment:

Lindsey_Renee_Grace said...

I can't help but start out by saying that Lent is about more than fasting. I really think you might enjoy exploring the full meaning and potential this tradition has to offer. Even God set aside times for his followers to fast and feast (Lent is about both, by the way) so clearly God himself sees the value of setting aside specific times to live differently. It can bear rich fruit. Plus, there is always something to be said for breaking from routine, it helps our lives to remain fresh, it also helps us to cultivate greater appreciation or deepen our appreciation for those things we love.

Anyway... I really needed to read these words tonight. Thank you for another thought provoking and encouraging post!