A Small Compromise
Matthew 4:8,9 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”
Having twice failed to cause Jesus to stumble, Satan swung big for his third and final temptation. Who knows if he could have/would have delivered, but to Jesus, he offered everything. Jesus, you can have it all, the whole world, if you will just do this one little thing for me.
The tempting words he used on Jesus echoed the words he used on Eve and the words he still uses on me. All you have to do is compromise a little and the rewards will be great. You can have it all: power, sex, fame, money, and popularity. Give in just this once. Surely God will not hold this against you. You know He is just a giant fun-killer anyway, right? He does not want you to follow your dreams. He will forgive you anyway, so you can have what you want and be forgiven later.
I often wonder what level of temptation Jesus felt. Did He think, I could get away with this? No one will ever know. I often think that I will be getting away with something if no one knows, but there is a big difference between lack of discovery and no consequences. I can think an evil thought, look at pornography, or cheat a little and hide it from the world, but I will still suffer the consequences in me.
When temptation says that I can have it all, it is always a lie. When I give in once, the gates in my mind open up to repeat that behavior over and over. One compromise leads to another and soon, I am addicted to the behavior. I am not even talking about drugs here. I am talking about any destructive behavior pattern whether it is greed, pride, lust, food, bitterness, anger or gossip.
We are tempted with the desires of our own flesh nature and we then lie to ourselves. No one knows. I’m not hurting anyone. Just this once. God will forgive. Our voice sounds eerily similar to Satan’s. To this voice, Jesus supplied his answer: Be gone, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve (4:10).
His answer, as with his two previous answers, was to turn his gaze to God instead of self. He demanded that Satan leave him, but I wonder if his next words were to Satan or himself. I follow God alone. Either way, I would do well to model his response and remind myself often that I do not follow self but God. This is my only right response in this life: He saved me from me, so I will not again follow me to destruction.
Just as temptation’s words are often repeated to me, I am to often repeat Jesus’ words to myself. I do not follow temptation, world or self. I follow God alone.