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March 29, 2010

A father’s game plan to fight temptation

by Dave Malnes

Temptations abound for a young father today.  Ordained by God to be a minister to the next generation, Satan will do all he can to remove a young man from this most holy calling.  The Bible not only gives us power and instruction, but also specific examples on how to conquer temptations in our lives.  And the example given to us is Jesus.

Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by Satan before His ministry was launched.  Satan chose to test a weakened Jesus after He fasted for forty days.  Fathers are sometimes brought to their weakest point after experiencing forty straight weeks of diapers, late night feedings, runny noses and constant bursts of high octane energy.  The devil knew Jesus’ bodily condition and the weaknesses of His age by designing three specific temptations to sway His commitment.  We can learn by examining how Jesus responded to these temptations.  The Apostle Paul wrote, “Because he (Jesus) himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”  (Hebrews 2:18)  The example of Jesus Christ will serve to show us, especially young fathers, how to protect ourselves from the same type of temptations in our own lives.

“The tempter (Satan) came to Him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”  Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”  (Matthew 4:3-4)

When I was a child, there was nothing worse than to be given a dare.  Usually, the dare was an activity you knew was not on the list of wise things kids should be doing.  Intense pressure was added to the dare when the infamous line, “What’s the matter, are you a chicken?” was uttered.  The strain would become unbearable.  I now had to prove to my friends and to the whole world that I was indeed a brave little boy.

Satan uses a childish, but terrible effective approach in tempting Jesus.  He not only offers a direct challenge to Jesus’ abilities to perform miracles, but a challenge to His mission, His personhood as the Son of God.  Jesus was given a dare to prove who He really was to all the angelic hosts as if they already didn’t know.

Satan’s temptation is the same as him coming to young fathers and asking, “If you really love your family, you would be providing them with all the wonderful and expensive comforts of life.”  A direct challenge is given to my mission as a father, questioning my desire to provide the very best for my family.  Satan effectively taps into my youthful willingness to prove myself by asking for material examples of love and devotion toward my family… as if they already didn’t know.

Jesus answers Satan’s temptation by relying on the Word of God.  He used Scripture to rebuke Satan demonstrating the over-riding power of the Word.  Jesus just didn’t have a firm grasp on Scriptures, but knew God’s Word by heart.  He provides us with the perfect example of overcoming temptation by knowing, even memorizing verses from the Bible.  His response is taken from Deuteronomy 8:3 during a time when God was providing manna to the desert dwelling Israelites.  For many years, the Israelites were forced to rely on God each day to provide food for them.  Their survival depended on God.  Jesus uses the verse to boldly declare His dependence on our Heavenly Father for His spiritual food and not on His own miraculous power.

Today’s families have been placed in a spiritual wilderness.  Fathers are being forced to rely and trust in God each day to guide their families.  We are certainly called to work hard in our chosen professions to provide for our family and bring glory to God, but our generation must re-learn what it means to be thankful and content for the basic needs God has graciously given us.  We must sacrifice our pursuit of worldly pleasures in exchange for spending valuable time with our family who so desperately need us at home.  In the end, it s not how much you have, but how much and whom you love and are loved.

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