Grace to you!
In today’s reflection, drawing from the Gospel of Luke 4:1-13, I share some thoughts on how to identify subtle and evil temptations, and overcome them.
Suppose you were traveling out of town for a crucial meeting. You’ve never been to the place before and do not know the route. Good a thing you have a GPS.
Suppose you entered the address and mistakenly keyed in the wrong zip code. You arrive at the address but found you were in a different city than the one you intended. You drove all the way, two hours in the wrong direction. It will take you double the time to reconnect to the right location. You will be late to the appointment or miss it completely. You become nervous. The reality of this misdirection is what temptation is like.
Temptation is anything that could derail us from our life’s mission and goals. It is anything that could lure us away from God’s plan in our life. It is the bait for sin. It can be actions or inactions, thoughts, words, situations, events, etc., drawing us away from our goals, possibly preventing us from reaching the finish line.
Let me use the story of the temptation of the Lord Jesus as recorded in Luke 4:1-13 as a case study for our application. Jesus’ mission was to do the will of his Father. His forty days and forty nights of fasting and praying in the wilderness before he started his public ministry was a testimony of his firm commitment to journey with the Father. Then came temptation.
I would recommend you read the story in Luke 4:1-13. You will find that at the root of the temptations was the subtle plan to misdirect the Lord from his absolute reverence or obedience to the Father. The temptations were testing where Jesus’ ultimate loyalty rested—in food for his hunger, acquisition of worldly power and possessions, in fame for himself or in his Godly mission? In other words, Jesus’ identity as the Son of God and the mission tied to it, were the objects of these temptations.
In those temptations, the Lord was carrying upon himself and exemplifying how we should deal with evil temptations. He was leaving us an example to follow when we are tempted. Notice that the main goal of all the temptations was to derail the Lord from his identity as the Son of God and his primary mission. It is ridiculous to imagine that the devil will attempt to do this, yet it does it all the time.
Every temptation is similar to the above scenario. Temptations are subtle, seemingly benign and suggestive of being in our best interest. They seem to be in line with our identity and mission in life. Some temptations look good at the face value. We can identify them by evaluating how consistent they are with our God given mission in life. We better be careful of anything that distracts from our ultimate goal in life. It doesn’t matter how good it may appear to be. Not all that glitters is gold. Sometimes, the glitterier, the more is the deception. Carefulness plus discernment is required.
Is there something that distracts you from your mission and goals in life? Anything that takes you farther away from God? A U-turn decision today is crucial. Such is the path to virtuous life.
Pray with me: Lord, deliver us from all temptations and evil. Amen
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[First Sunday of Lent, Feb. 14, 2016; Dt 26:4-10; Rom 10:8-13; Lk 4:1-13]
Father Maurice Emelu, Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections for the season of Lent your individual spiritual edification. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations. .