Matthew 4:1 - Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
The mostly honest salesman brought his company's bid to the purchasing agent of an engineering firm. The project was so big that if the bid were accepted his company would be in the black for an entire year, and his job security would increase tenfold. When he got to his appointment, the agent's secretary told the salesman her boss was running late. Even so, she ushered him into the office, told him to have a seat, and get comfortable. "My boss," she said, "will be here in about five minutes."
As he sat, the salesman couldn't help but notice his competition's bid was sitting on the agent's desk.
Nonchalantly, and upside down, the salesman read the document -- everything except the last line which was situated right under a can of juice. The mostly honest salesman debated and then decided to move the can, just a little bit, just a few inches.
He reached over, picked up the can, and hundreds of bbs poured out of the bottomless can. When the purchasing agent arrived, he saw the bbs all over and summarily declined the mostly honest salesman's offer.
This takes us to the topic for this devotion: temptation. Temptation is an easy thing to write about.
It's easy because all of us are voluntary victims of Satan's seductions. If you doubt me, open your newspaper. The business section will tell of some trusted CEO who managed to make tens of millions of dollars for himself even as he lost his investors' cash and his employees' jobs. You will read of the honored civic servant who took something extra, spent something wrongly, and betrayed his constituents' hope. You won't have to look over too many pages before you are told of a preacher, pastor, or priest who has been found guilty of some scandalous charge, of a respected athlete who chose to enhance his God-given abilities by using illegal drugs.
Look back on your own life and you will find -- as I have -- far too many episodes of shame and sin, too many times where Satan successfully placed before us something to which we couldn't, or didn't say no.
Looking back, we wonder why we did what we did, but the truth is we did it.
Each of us has fallen victim to Satan's very special seductions. Yes, that's right: he custom tailors temptations for individuals. He knows what tempts me would probably bore you and what tempts you would leave me uninterested. If you doubt me, look at Scripture. He used jealousy to prompt Cain to kill Abel and doubt to cause Abraham to distrust God's promises. Elijah fell victim to despair, and Jonah questioned the Lord's direction.
With centuries of successful accomplishment and achievement, Satan also tried to tempt the Savior. Some of those temptations are recorded in Scripture; some are not. Written down or no, the truth is if Jesus had pursued any of those temptations, He would not have been the Savior, and we would not be saved.
But Jesus did resist, and His life's work has been accepted. Now those who are brought to faith rejoice because the Savior has done all they could not in resisting temptation.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, for my weakness in the face of Satan's temptations, I ask forgiveness. Grant that I may, in the face of my weakness, rejoice in the victory the Savior has won for me. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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