Over the last couple of days, I’ve been studying the book of Matthew and it has been such an insightful experience, so I thought to share some of my learnings with you. I pray that the Lord takes my words and uses it to minister to your hearts.
Let’s start from Matthew 4.
The chapter opens with the account of Jesus’ temptation. It starts with the Scripture telling us that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted and tried. I read that and thought, ‘wait, what?’ The purpose of this wilderness experience was to be tried? I realized that what we consider trials could sometimes be God’s way of refining our character, purifying our motives, and pruning us to serve His purpose. I love how James 1:3 (TPT) renders it: ‘For you know that when your faith is tested, it stirs up in you the power of endurance. And then as your endurance grows even stronger, it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking’.
The chapter continues by outlining the three temptations and Jesus’ response to each one.
Temptation 1: Turn stones into bread.
Devil: “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread”.
Jesus: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’.
Strike 1! *Soft punch to the devil! *
Temptation 2: Throw yourself down.
Devil: “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘in their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’
Jesus: “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”
Strike 2! *Uppercut with sound effect! Gbish!*
Temptation 3: Bow down in worship to me.
Devil: “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
Jesus: “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.”
Strike 3! *Total Knock Out! Be gone!*
From these 3 temptations, one thing that stood out for me repeatedly was ‘the pressure to prove’. I think that we can relate to this as each day we are constantly faced with the pressure to prove one thing or the other. For some, it’s the pressure to prove that you are as spiritual as others in your Bible study group, as financially secure, trendy, popular, etc. That you are making strides in your career, have it all together, are a great parent, and so on. For others, it is the pressure to be married, have a child, have more children, and so on. The pressure of pressure is real!!!
Pressure is as old as time, so gather around and let’s discuss how to deal with it.
So, how do we deal with pressure? How did Jesus do it?
First, Jesus used the Word.
Jesus consistently started His responses with, “it is written”. Friend, do you know what God has said about the respective ‘pressures’ that you are facing? The word is the sword of the Spirit with which you disarm the enemy; but first, you need to feed on it.
Second, Jesus was sure of His identity.
You see, Jesus responded to the testing God part in temptation 2 without paying attention to the question about His identity – because He was confident of who He was. He also said, ‘you shall not tempt the LORD your God’, meaning that He is (and you are) Lord over the devil. Of course, the devil knows this but a lot of us do not. The devil is a trickster and deceiver, known to often plant seeds of doubt in our hearts, especially when we don’t know who we are. Discover and rest in your God-revealed identity – not in your achievements, failures, or ambitions but in who God says you are.
Third, Jesus exalted the Father’s will.
All through these temptations, we see through His responses that Jesus wasn’t about what He wanted, what the devil wanted or what was convenient. Nope! Look at His responses; He was focused on doing the Father’s will and pleasing Him.
Friends, focus on God. Make Him the meditation of your heart and the desire of your soul; and that would significantly eliminate these ‘pressures to prove’. It would give you a purpose for living and provide a compass for your soul. It will empower you to live guided, to live free and unencumbered because your decisions are made in advance.
Written by C. I.