Have you ever been tempted to take a short cut only to discover that the short cut was the long way around a problem? One of the “typical” mistakes my husband and I have frequently made through the years is for me to do half the task while he does the other half and then we spend the time we saved trying to find each other in the store or hospital or where ever. I learned to drive on the Los Angeles freeway. I quickly learned that switching lanes back and forth because one lane looked faster than the other, invariably led to frustration and I seldom traveled faster. Short cuts can be deceptive. “Easy” is seldom easy.
Jesus has been tempted by his “hungers.” If only we could turn that which appears like a rock into bread, surely his hunger would be satisfied. The satisfaction is temporary though and he reminded us that true satisfaction comes from God. Next Jesus was tempted by his physical or emotional needs. Surely if God loved him, then God would not allow Jesus to be hurt. Growth involves learning from our mistakes and adventuring into new areas that must be mastered. Lastly the Evil One tempts Jesus with taking the easy way, the short cut. If Jesus would worship Satan then he would not have to go to the cross.
We know this temptation. The little voice makes us think if we fudge on our income tax return and get more money back, then we would have an easier life. Ads make us think if we use their product then we will look younger. But in fact, our back still hurts. Then again we have just been plagued trying to find the right gift so the other will know how much we love. Next year we will try again.
“8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour; 9 and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ 10 Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! for it is written,
“Worship the Lord your God,
and serve only him.”’(Matthew 4: 8-10)”
In this temptation we learn that the best way forward is to keep our priorities in order. In the 60s there were books on “values clarification.” I believe there is a saying, to thine own self be true and thou canst be false to none other. It is only as we worship God and serve him that we find peace. The short cut may look easier and faster but true joy comes when we live with integrity with our faith and our God. As 2023 begins to unfold, it might be worth taking a few minutes to jot down five values that are important to you and stick the paper in your Bible so that during those dark days you can pull it out and remind yourself that worshipping God is the best way, not necessarily the easiest! Blessings.