Devotional Reading: Matthew 4: 1-11
I always thought that temptations were a bad thing. At various times in my life, whenever I faced a major decision and didn’t know which way to go, I would pray, “Lord, if you do NOT want me to do a certain thing, then please don’t tempt me because I am weak and I will fail.” I truly knew what the apostle Paul was talking about when he wrote, “I do not understand my own action. For I do not do what I want, but the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7: 15-20) Like Paul, I stumble a lot.
But then, in reading today’s text, I realized that Jesus was led into the wilderness of temptation by the Spirit–the Holy Spirit. Temptations, then, are not bad. They are clarifying. They help me discover the essence of my character. As an old Country song says, “If you don’t know what you stand for, you’ll fall for anything.” Jesus’ temptations clarified for Him, the Early Church, and us today what gives our lives meaning. In life we “do not live by bread alone”. We must not “put God to the test”. And only one Being is worthy of our worship. (Matthew 4: 4,7&10, respectively).
These are basic principles by which we can live our lives. These are the principles we can use when we face temptation.
Lord, Jesus told us that when we pray we ought to pray not to be led into temptation. But when we are tempted, help us to stop and ponder Christ’s lessons–we do not live by bread alone, we must not put God to the test, and only one thing truly deserves our worship. Amen.