The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’
All of us have received a “dare” to do something we know is wrong. I’m more aware of these temptations during lent. I grew up in the era of giving up chocolate or dessert for lent. We didn’t eat meat on Fridays and my mother tended to rotate between, mac and cheese, tuna noodle casserole, and something she called “salmon wiggle”.
I remember having another child wave his ham sandwich at me in the cafeteria and feeling a strong desire that we get when we are presented with something that we can’t have. The thing takes on a much greater value. I don’t even like ham sandwiches that much but in that moment, I was coveting his.
To this day, I can’t have certain foods in the house (honey) because it is a constant temptation and I will end up justifying why it is ok to head downstairs at three in the morning to make myself some honey toast.
When we are presented with temptation we all become the best salespeople in the world. Our intellect works hard to figure out a way to make succumbing to temptation not only acceptable but valid.
Check out all the stones in the picture. What’s the harm in turning just one of them into bread and breaking the fast? We’ve all been there.
Fortunately for us, Christ has set us free (John 8:36) and we do not have to be perfect at avoiding temptation. We can remind ourselves during lent that we are saved by grace not by merit. It’s that understanding that leads to a deep sense of gratitude that helps us avoid temptation because we are too busy offering what we have and ourselves to others.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
So when we are tempted, we pray and we do whatever it takes to be strong, but when we fail, we remember that we are loved by a merciful God who listens to our confession and gives us strength to get back on track.