When you face temptation, what should you do? When you recognize that a compromising situation is just ahead, should you stay and stand on your own fortitude? Should you seek the presence of God, indeed, Jesus, to help you sort things out and not stumble and fall into the temptation? Of course, you know the answer, but this is the million dollar question, isn’t it? What DO YOU DO when faced with temptation?
Let me add a little context here. If we look at this same story in the Gospel of John, we get a clue as to why Jesus was “immediate” in sending the disciples out onto the boat and why he went quickly to pray and to seek solitude with God. They had just finished feeding 10,000 people and John tells us:
John 6:15 (TNIV)
Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
Mark 6:45-46 (TNIV)
45 Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.
Jesus knew and said many times that His kingdom was not of this earth but was a spiritual, heavenly kingdom. Remember after His baptism when Jesus was tempted by Satan with an earthly kingdom?
Matthew 4:8-10 8 (TNIV)
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
I remember once when I was at work in my previous job. A friend was given a raise and not me. He was now making more than me. I did the finances, so I knew these things. I worked late and came to work early and it really upset me deeply that my friend was given this raise. I knew that the next day I would be a firecracker waiting to explode on someone. I stayed home and prayed. You see, truthfully, the boss had every right to do what he wanted with his own money. Truthfully, I know that I must I ultimately put my trust in God and serve God. While my boss is my boss, God is my salvation and mentor in life.
It’s funny that my wife knew I needed to be alone that day so she went shopping all morning so that I could pray. I was really hurt and upset! I did pray, I asked for perspective, I asked for strength and I told God I knew what was right but needed His strength to help me carry it through. Well, I felt a peace come over me and the next day I was able to go to work without all this pain, bitterness and hatred that I had begun to experience two days before. I resisted the temptation to strike out at those around me at work (which might have cost me my job if I did!), but most of all, I put things in perspective and I rid myself of the pain of bitterness and hatred that had started to take root in my soul.
It is also interesting that a year later when my company started laying off all its employees, I was not laid off. It’s as if Jesus said to me, “Well done good and faithful servant! You resisted the temptation to harbor bitterness and hatred and you forgave and put your trust in me.”
When you start to feel the heat of temptation loom ahead, are your eyes clear enough to see the problem catching fire? Don’t debate the situation, JUST SEEK GOD’S PRESENCE! Put the fire of temptation OUT!
When you spend time in prayer with God, indeed, with Jesus, you nurture your relationship and you equip yourself with the strength, God’s strength, to handle life’s challenges and struggles. Follow Jesus’ example by praying more frequently. Seeking His presence will help you grow spiritually. He will give you the strength to react to these challenges in a healthy way!