Tuesday, March 7
Spiritual Questions: Whose are We?
Temptations are an inescapable part of the human experience. I must have faced a dozen of them just this morning: Sleep in or get up early? Play hooky or go into work? Eat a nutritious breakfast or stop for a biscuit? Gossip with a coworker or hold my tongue?
When temptation gets the better of me, which it often does, I sometimes sooth my guilt and shame by using God’s nature to justify my weakness. Doesn’t God love me, flaws and all? Doesn’t he want me to be happy?
In Matthew 4: 1 – 11, in which Christ is tested in the wilderness. Jesus, having fasted for forty days and nights, is tempted to turn stones into bread. He is tempted to test God in order to comfort himself. To turn away from Him and toward Satan in exchange for power.
Matthew reminds us of just how human Jesus was. I think we need this reminder. Sometimes we think about the ways in which Christ was tempted, and we say, “Of course He can resist temptation, He is God,” but we know that, in Jesus, God was human in every way. He, like we, was repeatedly in a position to either give into his desires or act in spite of them. In truth, he suffered from temptation more than any of us, because he never yielded to his earthly desires.
Whose are we? We are the sons and daughters of an empathetic, understanding God. When you pray about temptation, you are in the presence of a friend who says, “I know just how you feel.”
To be sure, God does loves us, flaws and all. Unlike Satan, who seeks to weaken us through our weaknesses, God seeks to refine us. To make us new. More like Him.
Satan tempts. God tests. There is a big difference between the two. The goal of temptation is failure. The goal of testing is advancement. God, when he tests us, is not unlike a teacher who tests a student to be sure he or she is ready to move on to bigger and better things.
Thank you for enduring temptation and suffering on our behalf. Thank you for teaching us that we are more than slaves to our desires and that, through you, we can make choices that align with your will. Thank you for forgiving us every time we succumb to temptation, and thank you for helping us grow and mature during those times in which we are tested and, in you, find the strength to pass.