“You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test”

Today’s reading from Luke 4:1-13 has some interesting implications. Beyond what we might normally associate with it.

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan
and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days,
to be tempted by the devil.
He ate nothing during those days,
and when they were over he was hungry.
The devil said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
command this stone to become bread.”
Jesus answered him,
“It is written, One does not live on bread alone.
Then he took him up and showed him
all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant.
The devil said to him,
“I shall give to you all this power and glory;
for it has been handed over to me,
and I may give it to whomever I wish.
All this will be yours, if you worship me.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“It is written:
You shall worship the Lord, your God,
and him alone shall you serve.

Then he led him to Jerusalem,
made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
throw yourself down from here, for it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,
With their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.

Jesus said to him in reply,
“It also says,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.
When the devil had finished every temptation,
he departed from him for a time.

There is much to absorb from this part of scripture, which were italicized in the original. “One does not live on bread alone.” “You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.” And, “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.

Pondering this reading, what came to my attention was the last sentence. And I wondered how many times we put God to the test. Inadvertently perhaps, but still we test Him (or Her as some may prefer). We pray for our team to win the game, putting His allegiance to our favor to the test. We bargain away something in return for a need, putting His favor to the test. We like or share a posting on Facebook or Twitter because it says if we do something good will happen to us or if we don’t something bad will happen to us, testing  His goodness for us. Some try to bring on the End of Days or the final apocalypse by trying to egg on war in the Middle East, putting His resolve and His wisdom to the test.

These are just a few examples. I have always found that when I trust God, when I give myself up to His will, everything works out. Pray your personal needs, take a deep breath, and believe. “Thy will be done.”

God doesn’t favor one sports team over another because of your prayers. There are people on both sides praying, you know. He doesn’t grant wishes based on what you claim you will do in exchange for the favor. He provides as you need. And Jesus the Christ himself told those he healed that it was by their faith they were healed — the stories in the Gospels never mention anyone making deals for their healing. Ask how many people on Facebook and Twitter who liked or shared those manipulative postings were actually granted a good or who suffered because they didn’t. It is only coincidence the few who did. God doesn’t follow Facebook or Twitter. He follows your heart and your soul. And Jesus says outright that only the Father knows of the final day and hour. You cannot hasten it by your actions and it is by lack of faith that you even attempt to influence it.

The other sentences actually fit here, too. Trying to influence God by testing Him is folly and a waste of your time. If you spend your life that way, you are living by bread alone. For you miss the feast of life that is available when you trust God instead. Remember Matthew 6:26. “Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap, they gather nothing in barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?” And when you do something as absurd as seeking to bring about the apocalypse, who are you really serving? Surely not God, whose behavior you seek to set to manipulate. Him alone shall you serve! Put Him not to the test.


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