…and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! for it is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.” ’ Matthew 4:9-10
The devil isn’t often obvious to us when we are being tempted. Few are the men and women in life who are tempted by outright evil. Instead, most of us are tempted by compromise to achieve something right… something noble… perhaps even something that is for the greater good.
In our text this Sunday, Jesus is met by such a temptation. On this mountaintop, he is given the opportunity to free the world from the hold of the devil. All he would need to do is sacrifice himself. It is a twisted version of his decision at the cross. At the cross, Jesus would sacrifice himself to free the world. But Jesus is able to discern the difference between these two paths of sacrifice for us.
Jesus said to the enemy of our souls, “We worship the Lord our God and serve him alone.”
All things are put into correct perspective from the place of worship… the place where our souls are focused upon the Living God. Those things that pursue us… drive us… choke us… and bind us do not have room to lord our lives when we worship. The twisted justice of revenge, the shallow love of lust, or the temporary success in greed are exposed when we fix our eyes upon Jesus.
When you come to a place of struggle, pause and lift your eyes to Jesus. Spend some time setting him rightly in your soul by worship. Ask him to shed light upon the choices facing you. Tell him that you desire to make choices from who you are in relationship to him. Ask him to fill you with the Presence of the Holy Spirit. Then look again at what is before you and choose to live a life that serves God alone.
Jesus, you know the temptations and choices that buffet us. You also know the lie that we don’t have time to invite you in. So, right here and now, we fix our eyes upon You. We worship you and ask you to rightly orient our hearts toward you. Thus, prepare us to recognize temptation for what it is and grant us the courage to choose to serve you alone. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.