Here’s the thing…I like to cheat. I am tempted to do it on a regular basis. I am especially prone to cheating when I am in the pool at 5:15 a.m. Oh, I am faithful in the warm up but around 5:15 a.m, I hit the tough part of the work out.
Ask me to sprint eight 100’s and I am going to be tempted to count by two’s. Every single time. I know I am not alone because my buddy in the lane next to me (who is a swimming machine by the way) tells me that whenever he loses track of where he is in his workout, he always rounds up.
A friend of mine once told me that when she is out running and gets tired, she will sometimes stop and walk…unless someone is watching. Then she waits to walk until they aren’t looking anymore. Once she ran all the way to the top of grueling hill because she saw a man standing at the top. Just about killed her. When she reached this guy she discovered he had a seeing eye dog.
I bet she would have cheated and walked if she had known.
Humans don’t like pain. Let’s be honest, we don’t like to be even remotely uncomfortable. So, when the going gets rough we are tempted to cheat and take the easy way out.
Matthew 4:1-11 tells us of a time when Jesus was in some pretty serious distress. He had been fasting for 40 days in the wilderness. He was hungry, tired, and weak. That is the moment Satan showed up to tempt The Messiah to cheat. He approached Jesus three times. Each temptation offered Jesus something he ultimately desired- physical provision, spiritual authority over the fallen creation, and the rightful restoration of that creation (the kingdoms of the world) to Jesus, the Creator. It wasn’t that the thing offered was bad; the problem was that Satan was tempting Jesus to step out of God’s plan for His life and take the easy way out.
The last two temptations are especially chilling when we consider that Jesus would ultimately win spiritual authority over all creation and rule the kingdoms of the world…through His sacrifice on the cross.
Jesus knew all too well the cost of Calvary but He stood firm.
“Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” (Matthew 4:10)
This world if full of trouble. We live, love and serve in a Creation that still waits for the ultimate fulfillment of its redemption. And sometimes, we find ourselves in a wilderness that seems to stretch on and on without end. It is tempting to shortcut the process and take the easy way out but God is calling us to be faithful to Him. We are challenged to throw open the doors of our hearts to welcome His good work in our lives in the midst of the pain. May we follow the example of Christ and resist the temptation of the easy way out.
Let the treasures of the trial form within me as I go, and at the end of this long passage, let me leave them at Your throne. May the journey bring a blessing, may I rise on wings of faith; and at the end of my heart’s testing with Your likeness let me wake.- Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer, Margaret Becker