If we are not criminals, and we don’t particularly consider ourselves to be sinners, do we really need to worry about the devil, or the dangers of temptation? If the temptations in our lives are simply to sit at the computer too long, or indulge in the odd tipple, how much does that really matter?
On the first Sunday of Lent we are always treated to the same lesson. We are asked to consider what we are about, how the devil might put spanners in the works, and what we can do about it. Today the devil finds Jesus in the wilderness. He finds him when he is hungry and weak and tempts him with attractive options, food, fame and protection. We don’t see Jesus dithering, not even for a minute. Jesus is able to put the temptation behind him because he knows what he is about. Jesus understands his mission and it isn’t about materialistic benefit or power. Jesus is able to put aside the temptation because he is confident that the same Holy Spirit that has taken him into the wilderness will lead him back out.
The wilderness comes in all shapes and sizes. For us it could be moments when we’re feeling lost, broken, unloved, tired or overburdened. In these moments of weakness this is when we are most at danger. These are moments when the devil can come to us offering comfortable and attractive options. Comfortable and attractive options can tempt us to make poor decisions; decisions that provide distractions. The devil can be subtle. Temptations rarely lead the majority of us into crime or even into sin. Being tempted to finish off a bottle of wine or spend longer than we ought on Facebook doesn’t seem so bad, but are the tens of little distractions we succumb to each and every day taking us away from who we really are, and from what is genuinely important?
Every day the Holy Spirit is guiding us towards our specific missions in life. Do we say ‘yes’ to the work God has lined up for us, or do we fall for all those comfortable little distractions?