Following his baptism, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days, where he is tempted by the devil. Three times, Jesus resists the devil, quoting Scripture and standing firm. Remember the serpent in the Garden of Eden – he whispered plausible lies about God – and here the same thing happens:
- A challenge to the identity of Jesus: Are you truly the Son of God? Surely, if you are, God would not want you to go hungry?
- An offer to gain power by compromise: Don’t you want to have all this? It’s yours if you bow down and worship me. Wouldn’t the Son of God want this power?
- A provocation to put God’s promises to the test: If you are the Son of God, then prove it through spectacular displays.
The devil continues to whisper plausible lies, and this can impact on our desire to be generous with our time, our money and our talents:
- Surely God loves you already and you don’t need to do any more?
- If God loves you, would he really want you to sacrifice something for the sake of others?
These lies can feed into our hearts and minds and change our attitudes from giving generously to holding back.
So, what can we do?
Jesus used Scripture to remind the devil of his true identity and the nature of God. We can do the same. There are so many passages that assure us that we are children of God and that he has called us by name. Perhaps you can memorise a couple of verses to have at hand when you’re unsure that he cares for you.
Jesus offers us a model of humble service and so we can remind ourselves of his response to those in need.
Jesus was tested and we too will be tested at every level. Our private life and thoughts are as important as the public face we show to others. Let’s take hope in the fact that Jesus knows what we are facing and will help us remember how to respond.