It seems like I first heard the story of the devil tempting Jesus at a very young age. And have heard it many times since:
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread. ”Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’”
Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. The devil said to him, “I shall give to you all this power and their glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.’”
Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and: ‘With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him in reply, “It also says, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’” When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.
Jesus gives us three pieces of advice when faced with temptation:
- “One does not live by bread alone.” There is nothing on earth that can truly satisfy us. Even if we are starving — the temporary satisfaction on earth is not what we need or truly want. Remember the temptation, the good that we think will come from it or the harm that we think will otherwise befall, is temporary. Indeed everything that we eat here on earth eventually ends in the toilet.
- “You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.” Focus on God. We struggle when we take away that focus, when we try to serve human wants and desires. When we feel ourselves struggling, when we feel temptation, it is a reminder that it is time to turn back to God. Worship Him. Call out His name.
- “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” God is there. He doesn’t have to prove it. Faith is our greatest defense against temptation. God has a plan — it may not always match up with ours — but I am certain it is better than mine (and better than satan’s plan).
Help me to separate myself from worldly desires. Help me to focus on you and stay strong in faith. I wish not to be tempted, But help me to be strong when I am. Jesus, help me to follow your example.