1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – Matthew 4:1-4
Right after Jesus is affirmed of His identity (see the post from last week), He was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Have you ever considered that your season, or even your off-season, is similar to the wilderness in this passage? If we’re not led by the Spirit, sports can be a wilderness where we can lose sight of our identity in Christ. From my experience, time spent in the locker room, the weight room, or on the field is a setting where temptation is strong. There is a temptation to be prideful, jealous, lustful, to set your faith aside in order to impress someone, or to use the gift of sports as a means to sustain yourself.
The temptation to sustain oneself with a gift rather than the Giver is how the devil first tempts Jesus. As God incarnate, Jesus has every bit of power to turn the stones into bread and satisfy His hunger. However, He knows His purpose on earth is to depend on His Father as He obediently, humbly, and faithfully walks toward the cross. Likewise, we are tempted to use our gifts, abilities, and successes as a means to sustain ourselves. The truth is they were never given to sustain, but rather, like any gift, to enjoy—and to point us back to the Giver of the gift.
If you read closely, the secret to Jesus’ success isn’t that He is depending on Himself, but that He is being led by the Spirit and disciplining Himself to depend on the Spirit. If Jesus, the Son of God, leans on the Spirit for help and guidance during temptation, how much more do we need to lean on the Spirit? As we walk through the many wildernesses during our lifetime, and as you possibly feel tempted now, I encourage you to allow the Spirit to lead you and the presence and words of God to sustain you.
- Prayerfully examine yourself for the temptations you might be facing.
- Confess those times where you have given in and receive the grace of God.
- Ask God to sustain and lead you by His Spirit.