I love the game show Family Feud, especially with the current host Steve Harvey. I admit that I don’t often watch it, but when I do I am sure for a good belly laugh. It’s not just because Harvey himself is funny, but because some of the answers that people give on that show are hilarious. My all time favourite clip from the show is the porcupine answer, if you have never seen it, go ahead take a second and watch it here.
I know, I know part of it is the pressure; your brain just stops working because you’re nervous. And then I think to myself yeah I would get on that show and they would ask me something like we surveyed a hundred women to see what they must have in their purse at all times, and I would say something like a hambone!!
It can be hard for us to respond when we don’t have the answer right at the forefront of our minds, when we are unprepared.
The text in Matthew tells us that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert where he was to be tempted and he ate nothing for 40 days. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand how hungry and perhaps even weak Jesus must have felt at the time. Enter the devil, who tests Jesus.
The scene is reminiscent of Adam and Eve in the garden, where the serpent sows a seed of mistrust, “did God really say”?? So too he tries to sow the seed of mistrust with Jesus, saying “IF you are the Son of God”.
The devil has not changed his MO, and that realization kills me because it means that when I give into temptation to sin, it actually has little to do with the fact that somewhere in my consciousness there is a seed of mistrust. That kinda sucks, because I want to blame the devil if I am caught in sin, and while yes temptation may be put before me from an outside source, when I give in I can honestly say that it is because in some way, shape, or form, I did not trust God.
Well when the devil is up to it with Jesus in the desert, trying to sow those seeds of mistrust in the Son of God himself. (You don’t have to be hungry, you can have it all, you can save yourself you don’t need anyone) Jesus replies with scripture. When he is placed in the pressure cooker, unlike our family feud contestants, Jesus is able to come up with the right phrase for the hour. He knows his scripture and he uses it, because he is prepared.
So for me this becomes a question of how do I prepare, how do I resist temptation? I mean there are areas in my life where I am feeling constant temptation and I am sure the same can be said of most.
Last year I read a book called Transforming Prayer, by a guy named Daniel Henderson. In the book he talked about the fact that when we pray we need not only seek the hand of God in our lives, but also we simply need to seek his face. I wrote down a quote from the book, that I have oft forgotten to look at until today that says this:
“When we are in the habit of experiencing transformation as we seek God’s face, then enemy’s efforts to defeat, discourage, distract, or destroy is are met with the reality of our Christ-ward focus and the victory that comes from intimacy with Jesus. To Satan’s dismay, he sees us praying, trusting God, and becoming more like our Lord as we do so. He is notified that we are engaged in a pursuit of the promises of transformation and impact for the Saviour!” (I don’t know what page that is found on I just wrote the quote)
So perhaps when we fall into temptation, our ability to resist is really based on how well we know the father, how much time we spend seeking his face, and in doing so cultivate a lifestyle of trust? Maybe.
That thought connects with an old hymn that is a favourite of mine.
There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God.
A Place where sin CANNOT molest, Near to the Heart of God.
It’s not that I never sin while I am on this journey, but for myself I have to admit, the more I seek his face. The more I spend time in his word, the more equipped I feel to resist temptation. And so my prayer for myself and for you today, is “Oh that we would seek him more”