I love it when my daily lectionary readings come together and really punch me in the chest! This morning’s Psalter reading (from BoC) and Gospel reading (from LSB) did just that…and it was awesome.
In Psalm 119, I read:
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in your ways. (Ps 119.37, ESV)
That line was enough to get and keep me thinking about the worthless things of the world that so often entice us away from what is truly important. Surely we could all provide a litany of these sorts of things that almost continually threaten to pull our attention away from Christ and his kingdom. Quite honestly, I was driven to repentance over all the times that I wander, pursuing these worthless things instead of clinging to Christ–and pleaded with God for grace to focus more on him than the world.
Then in Matthew, I read:
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”
Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. (Mt 4.1-11, ESV)
No sooner was my prayer uttered than it was answered in this account from the life of Christ! Here he faced temptation to chase after what are clearly ‘worthless things’:
- Necessary (but mundane) necessities over which Christ has taught us not to worry
- Spectacular and miraculous manifestations, which can actually be sinful tests of God
- Personal glory and honor, which clearly is wrong when sought out, esp. through sinful means
To beat the temptations of these worthless things, Jesus relied continually on the Word of God to focus on the revealed will of God.
Sure, it’s simple. Sure, we’ve heard this countless times. Sure, we know these things to be true…
…and yet, like all the blessings of the God in Christ Jesus, we cannot hear these words too often. Thanks be to God for his grace!