Temptation and the letter “I”
In Matthew chapter 4 we have an account of Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness. Much has been written about this event and I think the account is helpful to us as we think about how to battle temptation in our own lives. What was helpful for me today in reading this was how “laser-focused” Satan appears to be in tempting Jesus to do something that personally benefits Him. The first temptation was to make stones into bread, because Jesus had been fasting for 40 days/nights and was hungry. The second temptation was for Jesus to throw Himself off the pinnacle of the temple. In Satan’s mind, the Father would have to send His angels to spare Jesus’ life and everyone would see this and it would draw attention to Jesus. The third temptation was Satan offering Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would worship Satan. There are several things these temptations have in common but one of those things is that they are all focused on the letter “I”. Each of these temptations is designed to have Jesus go outside of God’s plan and will to get something for Himself.
Isn’t that what most temptation is about? Have you ever been tempted to sin by helping a neighbor mow his grass or by giving some food to the poor? Nope. The temptations I face, and I think the ones that you face, are almost always centered on getting something for myself. Satan tempts me to make a decision or take an action that meets my need…and takes away my dependence on trusting God to meet that need; or to show me that the need I think I have really isn’t a need at all. The next time you are tempted to sin, stop, and think about how selfishly focused this temptation is. And then ask God to help you get through it. He will.