The serpent’s words in the Garden of Eden were intended to plant a seed of doubt in the human heart. They subtly called God’s goodness into question, and as a result, challenged the basis upon which God’s trustworthiness rested. ‘Did God really say you mustn’t eat the fruit? Oh, you won’t surely die! God just knows that if you eat the fruit, you’ll become like Him.’
Notice how similar these words are to those spoken by the devil to Jesus in the desert. ‘If you’re the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.’ In other words, ‘Come on! Your Father isn’t providing for your needs. Just look at you. But, all isn’t lost. You simply have to trust in yourself. Take matters into your own hands. You are the Son of God, aren’t you?’
Both instances suggest that God is withholding something good. They also imply that it’s always bad to be without something we believe would be good to have.
In Eve’s case, the serpent implied that being without one particular fruit proved God’s selfishness. In Jesus’ case, the devil implied that being without food was an unacceptable condition for one claiming to be the Son of God.
These instances are consistent with what temptation looks life in your own life. Satan wants you to doubt God’s goodness, stray from His promises, and become, in effect, your own lord. Men, think about Satan’s methods and strategies, and set yourselves wholeheartedly against them.
The triumph of the cross is the pattern for the Christian life. In the death of Christ we witness the death of death itself. Through the cross, Christ defeated your worst and last enemy. He won the war. And in this same way, you’re to fight the remaining battles, confident that the outcome is decided and in your favor.
Reading the gospel sets your thinking in a completely different direction than that of personal potential and self-empowerment’things our society put such a high value to. The gospel calls you to be out of step with the world. You and I must die in order to live. We lose our lives in order to find them. We become strong by becoming weak.
Yet we too often lack the courage and conviction to embrace these gospel paradoxes. Instead, we look at our needs, wants, and desires and formulate a plan we expect God to honor in order to meet them. This keeps us focused on getting our own way rather than on releasing God’s redemptive power in our lives.
How different this is from praying ‘Your will be done”Jesus’ prayer as He went to the cross. The world looks upon this and sees weakness, vulnerability,’and foolishness. Yet, if you believe the Bible, you believe the apostle Paul when he says the cross is the power and wisdom of God.
Men, we’re not better than our Master. Jesus Christ’s life was cross-shaped, and ours should be also.
When I first began reading the Gospels in the New Testament I was struck by several things: Jesus didn’t heal everybody; He was willing to say ‘No’ in a way that would be considered rude today; and He often fled from the masses ‘ he withdrew to rest.
The popular image of Jesus as a passive guy who couldn’t say ‘No’ and who catered to everyone’s beck and call is wrong. He argued, used strong language, said ‘No,’ and walked away. When it came to taking time for Himself, He provided an example we’d be wise to follow.
Men have responded pretty well to the current mindset in our culture that suggests men need to be more involved at home. You probably do housework, change diapers, shop for groceries, play with the kids, date your wife, and help with homework. But having adopted this mindset, many men feel guilty about taking time off for themselves. I don’t mean a ski trip to Colorado. I’m talking more about just taking a few hours here and there to regroup.
Often husbands will stay with the kids while their wives get together with the girls, but they don’t plan similar events for themselves. Do you think your wife needs a break and you don’t? That’s a big mistake.
Friend, if ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,’ it’ll also make him an increasingly dull husband and father. Take care not to let this happen to you.