Temptations: the things that we desire but we are not to have, because they are not good for us.
Temptation is like a bag of potato chips. It’s delicious. Have you ever had just one chip? Of course not. We always go back for more.
One thing my family does to limit our intake of chips is to put the chips in a bowl. And this helps a little bit, but it’s not as helpful for me when I’m alone. Because I’ll start with finishing off one bowl of chips. But soon I’ll have a second bowl. And then a third. And before you know it, I’ll have finished off the entire bag.
That’s how temptation works. We keep going back because we want to. We want more. I see, I want, I take. And then I’m left with an empty bag, an upset stomach, and a need for larger pants.
In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 4, we see that Jesus also faced temptation. Jesus was tempted to focus on himself and his own needs, to seek fame and mass approval, and to embrace the way of power. But instead of giving in to these temptations, Jesus continually chooses to remain faithful, humble, and embrace the way of servanthood.
I know what you’re thinking. Of course Jesus overcomes temptation, that’s what makes him Jesus.
But what interests me the most isn’t that Jesus overcomes temptation—it’s how Jesus prepares himself to overcome the temptation. He spends time in prayer, fasting, and learning the scriptures. So that when he is tempted, he is ready and prepared to meet the temptations head on.
Friends, if we are to overcome temptations—if we are to overcome the things that would have us veer off Jesus’ path of humble servanthood—then we’re going to have to be prepared. So that when the temptation comes and when we’re met with opportunities to be selfish or unloving, arrogant, we’ll be able to choose wisely and lovingly.
Let’s also remember that we never have to face temptation alone: Jesus walks with us. The Holy Spirit guides us, and empowers us to overcome temptations, and to make good, life-giving choices that will not only bless us, but will also bless others.
Friends, what is is that temps you? What are the things that pull you away from the loving way of Jesus?
For some of us, overcoming temptation starts with staying away from the bag of potato chips.