On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 76: Temptation

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (Matthew 4:1 RSV)

In the wilderness, our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ met the great temptations that would attack humanity of all time. There, singlehandedly, Jesus encountered the wily, subtle foe. And He overcame him.

The first great temptation was on hunger, or better, on appetite – that inner craving that cannot usually be put aside without fulfilling it. The second great temptation was on belief – did Jesus actually believe what the Scriptures say about his and all people’s safety?  The third great temptation was on love of the world – did Jesus crave popularity, honor or fame? The thrones and kingdoms of this world, and all the glory that went along with them, were offered to Jesus. Satan came with worldly honor, wealth and presented them to Jesus in the most attractive light that tried to cover up the allurement and deception contained in the temptation. “All these I will give you,” Satan said, “if you will fall down and worship me.” Yet Jesus repelled all of the temptations, and emerged the Victor.

You and I will never be tried by temptations as powerful as these that were thrown at Jesus. Yet Satan has better success when he approaches us. We have all felt them. We have all heard them: “All this money…all this gain…all this land…all this power…all of these honors and riches I will give you…” And all for what? The trade-off is rarely as clear as it was for Jesus. To Jesus, Satan was quite clear:  You will get these things “If you fall down and worship me.”

When Satan throws temptation at us, the trade-off is not so clear. He comes silently and opens the door for us. He presents us with things we think will make us feel good. He offers us options that we think will make us content. He gives us the possibility of being someone in life, that popularity and fame that we never had – that moment in the spotlight that would tell the world who we really are! And we are charmed into believing that Satan has both the power and the authority to accomplish it. And when we believe that Satan has the power and the authority? Then we, too, have fallen down and worshipped him.

We have the example of Christ before us. “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve” (Matthew 4:10 RSV) St. Paul advised the Christians of the Galatian churches: “Do not be deceived” (Galatians 6:7 RSV).

This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.

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