Saturday February 20 – Day 4 – THE TEST
“5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” – —Matthew 4:5-7 (NIV)
Do you know people that use knowledge to annoy other people?
They take great pride in what they know, and they will stop at nothing to share their knowledge with anyone they can (or who will listen).
Our family friend Pastor Melenbacher had one of the best sayings I have ever heard, and I tend to use this nugget of truth quite often. Here it is:
“It is good to tell the truth, just don’t always be telling it”.
Let those words sink in for a minute.
Just because you know something to be true doesn’t mean you should be shouting it from the rooftops. Sometimes, we need to take the feelings of others in consideration when speaking the truth.
Now please don’t get me wrong here. I am not suggesting that we should start lying. The truth does set us free, and during the season of Lent I believe it is important that we are truthful not only to ourselves but to others.
However, sometimes we use knowledge for our own gain or to prove a point, and it is not right.
Take for instance the second temptation written in the book of Matthew during Jesus’ time in the wilderness. The evil one knows the truth, and tries to use it to manipulate Jesus into doing something that Jesus knows He shouldn’t do.
We know that the evil one KNOWS the difference between right and wrong, and most certainly knows the Word of God. However, having knowledge and actually “living it” are two completely different things. This is the subtle nuances of evil, and ones that we as believers can forget at times. I think of C.S. Lewis’ book, “The Screwtape Letters”, and his clever portrayal of the evil one. Screwtape cannot fathom why God would love humans in the way He does, and conducts himself like a shrewd businessman with Wormwood, his protege. Appearances can be deceiving.
In Matthew 4, we see the evil one trying to convince Jesus to show His power and prove that He is the Son of God. The thing is, Jesus doesn’t NEED to prove to himself that He is the Son of God. He knows. And because He knows, he decides to “live” the knowledge He has to honour and obey His Father.
“Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
How often do WE put God to the test in our daily lives?
How often do we make deals with God?
“I won’t do this IF You show me a sign that You are God”.
“I promise I will believe in You if you save my brother’s life.”
During this 40 day period, I wish to convict us all in our prayer life. Our dialogue with God should not be filled with ultimatums and false promises. IF we are simply praying a list of personal requests and demands, rather than making a cherished moment of listening and speaking to God, then I believe we are putting God to the test.
When Jesus faced the evil one, He again used the Word of God as a powerful instrument to protect and to convict. Even though the evil one wanted to use the truth to his advantage, Jesus made clear what was most important: we do not put the Lord our God to the test.
Instead, let’s put the Lord your God in delight.
Delight in the goodness of the Lord:
• in the favourite song that comes on the radio in the middle of a traffic jam.
• in the embrace of a life long friend who feels your pain
• in the laughter of your children
• in the promise that this pandemic will soon be over
If we decide to plan our lives so that we are fulfilling the call of Jesus in our lives, I am convinced that this gives God great delight.
How He LOVES when we create and do the things that make us feel alive.
How He LOVES when we take care of the orphan and the widow, and share God’s love with them.
How He LOVES when we come to Him in prayer when we cannot handle life on our own anymore and call out for His help.
My hope is that we can all take this time during Lent to reinvent our prayer life from a list of requests to a time to listen and share with God all of our fears and concerns. To begin to tell Him HOW much we NEED His presence in our daily lives and that we cannot keep it all together by ourselves.
My prayer for today is this: may every aspect of our lives bring great DELIGHT to the Lord, and that we will refuse to test Him as we listen and speak.
May the dialogue be sweet, and may you rest in His love today.
For tomorrow’s devotional, we are going to make our Sunday submissions a time of guided prayer reflecting on the week that has gone before. See you tomorrow, church!