Yesterday’s Gospel reading (Luke 4: 1-13) at Mass was Jesus’ retreat to the desert for 40 days of fasting and prayer. At the end, he is then approached by Satan and subjected to temptations. He withstood against the temptation of food. He rejected the temptation of power and glory. And, He was presented with the temptation to test God. After 40 days of fasting, you could consider that His human body was longing to ‘give in’ to something. Yet, His Spirit and firm knowledge of who He was and is kept Him from embracing any of the devil’s tricks. How should I, a mere mortal, incorporate this Scripture about Christ’s Temptation in the Desert into my daily life?
When reading this Scripture, it is easy for me to consider how miserably I would fail such temptation. The day after a fast day often has me wanting to eat more to ‘make up for lost calories’ rather than keeping to a modest amount. This is something I’m actually working on right now after my 3-day semi-fast…I am keeping portions smaller and turning towards water and vegetables most of the time. But, it takes a conscious effort to not just say what the heck and enjoy a large mocha or dessert item.
Power and glory do not seem to be a temptation for me at first glance. But, when I consider it further I have to ponder over whether my worry about how many people are reading this blog is, in reality, my seeking a small bit of ‘fame’ (which for some people is similar to glory.) Even in my own house, do I try to exert my power over the boys? How many of us have said “Because I said so!” in response to a child questioning something we’ve told them to do. Yes, we are to instruct our children and are given authority as their parents. But, that doesn’t mean we should be forming rigid guidelines and seek to wield power over them.
And, the worst of the temptations Christ faced: testing God. Do any of us consider ourselves so brazen as to put God to the test?
Well, just turning the Bible back to Judges in the Old Testament provides an excellent example of someone testing God. Gideon did not accept his call when it first came. Instead, he repeatedly tested that God would do what He’d promised.
When considering this particular temptation in my life, I look more at how I approach God on a regular basis. Do I border on doing this when I go to Him in prayer for something I want and practically demand it be the way I envision rather than His plan? I’m sure that He has no problem with me making a request. But am I instead asking Him to do something big just to prove His existence and love of me?
Or do I blame God for a trial in my life as if He has orchestrated whatever struggle I am facing into the form of temptation? No, God is NOT placing temptation in front of me. But, that doesn’t mean that the struggle is not something that can be used to help me grow in faith.
No one experiencing temptation should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God is not subject to temptation to evil, and he himself tempts no one. ~ James 1:13
I think one big takeaway for me at the moment is that we should not be looking towards God to make our lives easier and full of happiness. That isn’t something he has promised. And, in some ways that might be one of the greatest lies of our modern culture ~ that we should expect life to give us all our hearts desire.
The other big takeaway is that we should not berate ourselves for failing to resist temptation on our own. Rather, we need God’s Grace to sustain us and bridge the gap. Only by accepting and relying upon His Grace can we begin to not only resist temptations, but to grow closer to Him.
This post is linked up to the 40 Days of Seeking Him series co-hosted here at Day by Day in Our World. Visit the anchor post to find more posts on the theme of Lent and preparation for Easter as submitted by other Christian bloggers.