My Temptations, Part 3 of 3

Subtitle: A Lenten meditation on Luke 4.1-13 and a confession of personal struggle

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Contemplating Jesus’ temptations, I think about my own. Chiefly and generally, to be less or other than who and what I believe I’ve been called to be and do. And I wish my temptations were…are as clear as those Jesus confronted and my responses as certain.

Yes, sometimes my temptations and the solutions are obvious. (Although, occasionally, I confess that capitulation is as attractive as resistance!)

Yet, largely, it’s not the clarity of right or wrong, good or evil that I see. At least, not immediately. Rather, often, the color is an ambiguous gray of choices between what is less bad or more good. Moreover, as often, there is this additional degree of difficulty: I don’t know the quality of my choosing until time passes, allowing my assessment of consequences, my reflection on outcomes.

When I look to the Bible for guidance, particularly Jesus’ wilderness temptations, I am oddly comforted that, however clear Jesus’ experience was for him, I don’t see definitive ethical instruction for every eventuality. It’s not the way Jesus taught (or, at least, it isn’t the way I read the Bible).

However, I do see an outline of the shape that temptations often take…

To turn stone to bread is to ignore, at all costs, the call of self-sacrifice.

To seek possession of kingdoms is to covet success more than faithfulness; to compromise when standing on principle is impractical for me for it’s unpopular with you.

To leap from the temple pinnacle is to present myself in speech and action as someone other than who I am.

Facing temptation and making choices is never easy for me. But knowing what my temptations look like helps me readily to recognize them when they appear.

© 2022 PRA

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