“Then Jesus told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.” Matthew 4:10 CSB
This verse comes at the end of Jesus’ time in the wilderness. When Jesus is baptized and begins His ministry the first thing He does is be “led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1 CSB). He fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, Matthew tells us He was hungry (Matthew 4:2 CSB). That’s when the “tempter” hits Him with his first attack: “Son of God, tell these stones to become bread” (Matthew 4:3 CSB). Jesus response: “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4 CSB). Next Satan tried to get Jesus to throw Himself off of the temple, thinking if He’s truly the Son of God, His angels will catch Him. Jesus’ reply, “Do not test the Lord your God” (Matthew 4:7 CSB). Lastly, the Devil tries to get Jesus to worship him by offering Him the opportunity to rule over the earth. That’s when Jesus has finally had enough of his shenanigans and tells him to get lost (Matthew 4:10 CSB).
Any of the temptations that Jesus faced could become idols in our lives. Tim Keller, author and pastor describes idolatry this way: “Sin isn’t only doing bad things, it is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily idolatry.” The Devil was trying to get anything to come before God in Jesus’ life. He uses the same ploy on us. If we worship food more than God, it’s an idol. If we worship our health and safety more than God, it’s an idol. If we worship power more than God, it’s an idol. And it is so easy to succumb too, it can be so subtle we don’t even realize we’re doing it.
How can we know what we’re worshiping? A retired pastor I knew used this challenge to his people to help them know where their heart was: their checkbook and their calendar. He used it often in his sermons. He would say, “Show me your checkbook and your calendar, I’ll tell you what your heart is worshiping.” Where your money goes and where your time goes is where your heart goes as well. It’s truly that simple. God has given us a life to live, He’s given us free will to live it anyway we want. It’s up to us to put Him first, He’s not going to force the issue. But it can be challenging, the Devil has been around a long time. He knows what he’s doing and he does it well. But have no fear, Jesus defeated him and so can we.
Lord, Satan is annoying. His ploys are annoying. Just as Jesus said, so do we, “Go away Satan!” We don’t have time for you. Our hearts are centered on God, help us to keep them that way Lord. In You we place our hope and trust. You alone are our God, no other comes before you. (Matthew 4:10 CSB). In Jesus name we pray. Amen