Sermon:Temptation

Matthew 4:1-11

Temptation. This is traditionally the theme of today’s reading. There are many things that are tempting in life, but let’s pause and consider why they are a problem. If we are tempted to follow the fleshly path, such as desiring food, safety, power, as Jesus was tempted, these things can become idols. Yes, it’s important to look after our bodies, but putting needs like food, safety and power at the top of our list can become a bit compulsive if we let it. If you have ever been on a diet you will know what I mean – when I was trying to lose weight many years ago, on a strict regime, all I could think abut was food, and how I would spend the extra calories I was allowed each week. I would plan all week, which cake to buy at the bakery. It had become an obsession, an idol for me.

No, Jesus tells the devil. God’s word is more important than those other needs. If we are tempted to worry too much about the world of ourselves, we can follow Jesus’ example and go back to God’s word in scripture.

As we get older, our physical needs change. We may no longer be tempted in ways that we were earlier, but the desire to have functional, painfree bodies becomes important to us. This scripture challenges us – and it is a hard challenge – to trust God for those things, and not to think of looking to the flesh and the devil for solutions. Maybe this means not being tempted to unhealthy ways in order to distract us from pain. One of the temptations as we age is to try everything in order to regain mobility and function, and there are many ads on tv for various supplements and vitamins that promise all sorts of benefits. What’s the harm in that? you may ask. Good question, and it’s fine if you can afford it. But that’s the problem. Many of these things are unproven and are very expensive – a single trip to the chemist for a small bag of potions can cost upwards of a hundred dollars! People who spend this money risk losing their financial security as they spend money they need for other things, like food and heating.

Jesus’ message for us here today is to trust God, no matter how tough things get. No matter how hungry, lonely, or hurting we are. Jesus had to trust his heavenly father to care for him in the wilderness, and we can trust him too, to be there for us, no matter what is going on in our bodies and our lives.

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Keep us from falling into sin…

Keep us from falling into sin, and running into danger.

Whenever I hear this prayer, as part of the Daily Office in A New Zealand Prayer Book, I wonder whether all too often we run into sin, rather than falling into sin. People are so quick to find bad choices appealing, no doubt helped by the enemy, who is all too quick to exploit our weaknesses.

When I use my computer there seem to be adds that pop up, relying on my recent web-surfing for interests. This is how I knew that my son had used my computer to find some adult material that he shouldn’t have! Suddenly there were adds coming up for me to find ‘singles,’ hot Asian girls’, and the like. How easy it is to run into sin, and to fall into sin, when our internet useage is tracked like this.

We need to be ever vigilant, for ourselves and for our families, of this sort of thing. Many Christians are addicted to porn, and it must be very hard to fight these temptations when they are right under our noses.

What can we do? We need to be open about supporting people with various addictions, and asking for support for our own addcitions. We need to be ever prayerful, whenever we may be in a situaiton that could cause temptation. We pray, ‘save us from the time of trial’, but there must also be a commitment on our own part to be responsible, to fight against falling into sin, or runnign headlong into it. We can exert our self-control – it’s not easy., but the Holy Spirit will help us, no matter how shameful the problem. We just need to ask.