Matthew 4:8-10

Friday, March 3
Jeff Cribbs

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.
“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan!  For it is written:
‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

Rejecting Satan’s temptations and remaining sinless, Jesus established himself as the ruler of the redeemed earth prior to beginning his public ministry. Moreover, Jesus’s response to the devil is rooted in the old law as he responds with the Word of God from Deuteronomy, the book of obedience.

The third temptation of Christ is about having power and being king of your domain. Applying it to our lives, we are tempted by status, self-importance, self-exultation, dominating, or feeling superior to others.

Part of our collective failing may be because it is often difficult to discern good or evil. Most all temptations are about acquiring or feeling “good.” Or even murkier, we make ethical decisions based on various levels of good. Although we do not always recognize it from our point of view, there is an omnipresent “other side” with most issues and behavior. Our personal story and justification are what get us into trouble. We forget we are not here to seek our kingdom but Christ’s kingdom. 

How do we know when we are serving God and not ourselves? Jesus defeated temptation, and from his example, we have the power to face our own demons. By doing so, we can live life as we are called to do, serving God. We can turn to Micah 6:8, calling us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

Jesus rejecting earthly power for a greater power gives meaning and purpose to our lives. Standing up for and working to improve the plight of the poor, disadvantaged, oppressed, forgotten, and underprivileged is central to our calling as children of God. Collectively, the community of believers inherits and carries on this responsibility as we live into living for and serving others. 

Good and gracious Lord, help me see the good and evil in my life more clearly.  Please give me the power to reject immediate gratification.  Instead, help me recognize how to use my God-given gifts and blessings to serve your kingdom. Amen

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