Today’s Reading: Luke 4:1-30 (additional reading: Psalm 63:1-11 & Proverbs 11:20-21)
I think that we all understand what temptation is. There is a story told about a little boy in a grocery store that I think illustrates the nature of temptation. The boy was standing near an open box of peanut butter cookies. “Now then, young man,” said the grocer as he approached the young man. “What are you up to?” “Nothing,” replied the boy: “Nothing.” “Well it looks to me like you were trying to take a cookie.” “You’re wrong, mister, I’m trying not to!” That’s temptation!! We understand that temptation leads to trouble. There’s another story of a man said he was shopping in the mall with his wife when a shapely young woman in a short, form fitting dress walked by. He said as she walked by his eyes followed her. Without looking up from the item she was examining his wife asked, “Was it worth the trouble that you are in?
How many of us have shrugged and said, “The Devil made me do it!” and used that as an excuse when caught doing something we weren’t supposed to? It’s a convenient defense. But there’s one problem: the Devil can’t make us do anything. He may be clever, but he’s not all powerful. It may feel that way, however, when we’re dangling on temptation’s hook, because Satan has a tried-and-true strategy for luring us into his net.
First, he lays out the bait. Satan knows people like a skilled angler knows fish. He notes our habits. He observes our hangouts. Then he prepares a tailor-made lure and drops it right in front of our noses.
Second comes the appeal. He can’t make us bite, but he does know what happens inside us when we catch a glimpse of that tantalizing bait. Our fleshly nature draws us to it. We linger over it. We toy with it. We roll it over in our minds until it consumes our imagination.
Third, the struggle begins. Immediately, our conscience jabs us in the ribs, warning us of the danger. We know it’s wrong to take a bite. We may even see the barbed consequences poking through the bait. But Satan’s invitation looks so delicious. What do we do?
Fourth, the temptation ends with the response. Either we resist or yield; swim away or swallow it whole. Anyone who has resisted knows the feeling of freedom that decision brings. On the other hand, anyone who has yielded knows the feeling of emptiness that follows and the pain of the hook in your cheek.”