We have trivialized temptation: “May I tempt you with this these chocolate crackles”. Expressions like that. Temptation becomes a light-hearted joke. But it is really a serious matter when we are talking about the temptation to deviate from the pathway that God calls us to follow. One of the consequences is that we become less sensitive to God’s voice or, as they say, it hardens our heart. It makes it easier to give in to temptation in the future. It pushes God away so that we lose the intimate sense of God’s presence and love. This temptation can come from our own selfishness or it can come through accepted attitudes learnt from the community. However it comes, it is the voice of opposition to the ways and values of God’s realm; what Luke called the devil. The realization that he had a messianic role to fulfil, sent Jesus out into the wilderness to reflect on what this meant for him. It meant facing up to temptations that came both from within himself and from community expectations. All could appear to be plausible ways of bringing deliverance to his people, but they are not God’s way. Turning stones into bread, becoming an emperor ruling over many nations, performing outstanding miracles might sound like good ways of accomplishing his Son of God task, but no. They might appeal to his ego, but none of those would fulfil the purpose of his mission. God is love, and love is the way – self-giving, generous love. That is the pathway set for him. And is it not so for us? The pathway that God calls us to follow is one of self-giving, compassionate, generous love. OK, Jesus may have been unique but we are called to follow where he leads. The temptation to deviate from that is with us always.
- Give examples of other ways in which temptation is taken lightly or as a joke.
- What do you think about the consequences for giving in to temptation listed above? Are there other consequences?
- In what way does temptation for us differ from the temptation that Jesus faced?
- In what way is the temptation that we experience like the temptation that Jesus faced?