Today’s chapter: Matthew 4
Have you ever noticed how some days can start off just fine, but then in a matter of moments go completely off the rails? You wake up and the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and a Phil Collins song is on the radio. Life is sweet. Then a kid yells in the back seat. Or an aggressive driver uses a hand gesture to say he thinks you’re #1. Or somebody doesn’t say thanks for something thoughtful you did. Or your spouse asks a question you know you’ve answered before.
If we’re completely honest, sometimes it doesn’t take a lot to throw our day into a complete tailspin. Those moments of weakness are when we need to be most alert because that is when temptation is strongest. Satan always comes in our moment of weakness to see if he can poke and prod us into doing something foolish. He loves to come when we feel alone. Or tired. Or angry. Or out of control. Or hungry.
After Jesus had fasted forty days and was extremely hungry, Satan decided this was the time to try to goad Him into sin. He tempted Jesus to meet a legitimate need (food) in an illegitimate way (selfishly).
Jesus was clear on God’s will because he knew the Father and he knew what Scripture said. He quoted a verse about how the Israelites received daily manna (bread) from God. They learned not only that God would meet their needs, but that He cared about them and they could trust Him. He cares about you, too. You can trust Him to not only meet your needs, but to be with you in your troubles, even when you’re tempted to move away from Him.
Do you know what is at stake every time you’re tempted? Your future. With each decision you make, you’re becoming someone. Your words, attitudes, thoughts, and actions are all moving you in a direction. It’s entirely up to you whether you move toward God or away from Him.
Don’t get so caught up in the moment that you don’t see how the ramifications of temptation are always bigger than just that moment. It’s easy to get tunnel vision and only focus on the here and now: this decision, this dollar, this relationship, this argument, this cookie, this moment. But it’s bigger than that.
Choices always have consequences – some we can anticipate and some we can’t. You’re free to choose to live however you want. But once you choose, you’re not free to choose the consequences. So choose wisely.
What is a weak spot where you recognize you’re more vulnerable to temptation? It could be a tendency to be critical of your spouse, to worry about what people think, to exaggerate, to be sarcastic, to not spend enough time with your kids, to drink too much, to be selfish, or something else. Confess it to God. Identify a Bible verse that addresses the issue and memorize it. Follow Jesus’s lead and use Scripture to defeat temptation.