Second Temptation

Her husband's cancer was back and the bills were mounting. The mortgage company had sent its last notice before foreclosure and now the pink slip lay on her desk. An innocent piece of paper that was surely the last straw.

Why didn't someone shoot her now?

Then her eyes fell on the ledger. Ben, in accounting, had asked her to initial it. Sign off on his deceit. Her percentage of the take would be enough to keep the house. Just a simple matter of a couple of misplaced zeros. A company this size would hardly notice. They certainly hadn't noticed her these past ten years as she slaved away to make them richer.

She fingered the leather book, carefully buried under piles of innocuous documents. It would be so easy. Ben was good. They may never be discovered. Maybe it was the way out. Maybe God had provided the answer through Ben. What choice did she have?

You may never face a choice of that magnitude, but you will certainly face decisions that require the same degree of compromise. When your back is against the wall, you see no escape, and someone offers an easy out, do you have the moral strength to say no?

Jesus was faced with such a temptation when Satan came at him the second time in Luke 4. After Jesus' 40-day fast in the wilderness, He had already resisted Satan's suggestion to turn rocks into bread. Now the beast was at it again. He took Jesus to the highest peak and swept an arm across the valley. In an instant, they could see all the kingdoms of the world.

"This could all be yours," Satan hissed.

The Evil One knew God's plan. The world was about to be purchased out of his grip by the blood of the One he was taunting. If he could entice Jesus to do it his way, the plan would fail and he would be god after all. He must have cackled in anticipation as he watched the struggle on Jesus' face.

Imagine how Jesus felt. He knew the torture and murder he was about to endure. The dread had already begun. He had pleaded with His Father, "Please, if there is some other way..."

Was this another way?

When we read about the temptations of Jesus, we have to remember: these were real temptations. A temptation is an idea that lights a spark deep in our soul suggesting we veer off the course we know is right.

A spark was lit in Jesus.
What if he could have everything the Father sent Him to purchase without the agony? What if he could bring His Father all the kingdoms of the world a different way than the way they had planned? He hadn't been human then when they'd planned this thing. It hadn't seemed so horrible when He'd been enthroned in Heaven, praised by angels, and grieving over fallen man. Maybe...

Have you been there? You're wrestling with pain when a compromise appears. Your pain could be alleviated with this little action. A little step this way, a slightly dishonest word, a dalliance on the side and your problems will be solved. Or so you think.

Jesus has been there, too. And He gave us a model to follow.

He knew the path He had chosen in the light and refused to veer from it in the darkness.
"It is written..."

With a look neither to the right nor the left, He gave his answer. He didn't stop to dwell on the magnificence of those kingdoms, the plausibility of Satan's suggestion, or what obedience to His Father would entail.

We get into so much trouble when we pause to think about it.
If compromise is knocking on your door today, do what Jesus did: slam the door.

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