March 1

Matthew 4:1-11

Mark 1:12-15

There is a right way to live and there is a wrong way to live. How do we know which is which? Is it determined by popular opinion, by the society in which we live or by the traditions we have learnt from our parents? As Christians, we get our cue from Jesus. He called the right way the kingdom of God or kingdom of heaven way. It’s the way Jesus calls us to when he says, “Follow me”. The right way is the way God meant us to live. In summary it is the way of love to God and to neighbour in response to God’s love for us. God’s Spirit within us urges us to live this way. However, God’s Spirit is not the only spirit to influence us. There is a power abroad that actively works against our living God’s way. The urgings of this power we call temptation. We are tempted to let self-interest crowd out love for God and neighbour. Its universal. Everyone experiences this temptation, not just the temptation to eat too much chocolate or something like that, but the temptation to push God’s way aside in favour of getting our own way or to go along with social pressures knowing that they conflict with God’s way. These are times of testing. Jesus experienced this. As the Christ, how was he to go about his God-given task?  Remembering the miracle of manna in the wilderness, he was tempted to turn stones into bread-rolls. Aware of passages like Psalm 91:9-13 he was tempted to draw people by means of signs and wonders. Aware that he was called to exercise a royal kind of authority, he was tempted to be an emperor even more powerful than the emperor in Rome. All of these he rejected in keeping true to God’s love-filled way of life, and in so doing he invites us to follow him.

  • In everyday language, temptation means enticement, but in the Bible it means testing.  What is the difference?
  • If temptation is a time of testing, what is being tested?
  • What is the difference between proper self-regard and selfish behaviour?
  • How have you experienced temptation to depart from God’s love-filled way of life?