Rev. Leslie Watkins
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. Luke 4:1-2
Do you find it ironic that just as Jesus receives his baptism and is full of the Holy Spirit, the devil comes to visit him? How many times have you thought about doing something for someone in need and hesitated because you felt foolish, or doubted that you might be of any help to them? Wouldn’t it just be easier to sit back and rest a bit, trusting that eventually, they will be ok without your help? Do you really need to worship this week since you attended last week? “Tomorrow might be a better day to start that practice of Bible study and prayer because today is too busy already.”
It’s an interesting phenomenon that even when we are trying to do the right thing, to demonstrate our love for God by serving our neighbor, evil rears its ugly head. It comes in the way of distraction, a feeling that we aren’t important, a sudden opportunity to do something else more “fun,” a traffic jam, sleepless night or even a slight headache that could be easily cured with a big glass of water and perhaps a deep breath or two.
The thing about evil is that it doesn’t always look evil. Temptations rarely come in the form of what they really are: a desire to turn away from God to our own selfishness. Evil doesn’t look like a red creature with horns and a long red tail, the way we have imagined the devil to look. If it did, it might be easier to resist. Scholars have categorized the three temptations of Jesus as being (1) Hedonism (gratification of the physical body), (2) Materialism (prioritizing material gain over anything else), and (3) Egoism (care for one’s own welfare).
This week we will walk through the wilderness with Jesus and the devil. We will consider what Jesus experienced and learn how he deflected the temptations to turn away from God’s will for his life. For now, take note of how evil might creep into your day, your thoughts, your relationships, and your efforts to draw close to God. What draws you closer to God and to others? What sneaks in to sabotage these efforts? Awareness is the first step in arming yourself.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. Romans 12:1-3