How to deal with temptations
First Sunday of Lent
By Fr Roy Cimagala
It’s intriguing to note that Christ allowed himself to be tempted by the devil. (cfr. Lk 4,1-13) Although we can presume that the devil would have no chance to succeed in his effort, Christ must have allowed this event to happen to teach us how to deal with temptations which are unavoidable in our life.
Given our human condition, and especially when we enjoy some privileges and other special endowments, we have to realize that we would be a favorite target of the schemes of the devil. We need to be prepared for this lifelong condition of ours.
Whatever good thing we have in life has to be handled most delicately, with great humility. In other words, it always has to be related to God from whom all power and authority on earth comes. (cfr. Rom 13,1) It should be exercised always with God in mind and in heart. Otherwise, there is no way for it to go other than to be abused. Let’s remember that the only thing we are capable of doing without God is to sin.
To know how to exercise whatever power and authority we have according to God’s will and mind, all we have to do is to look at Christ, imitate him and unite ourselves to him.
Christ, who is the origin and seat of all power, exercises that power with great humility, with justice, charity and mercy. His attitude toward his power is expressed in these words of his: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mt 20,28) That is the attitude we ought to have toward any power we have. Only then can we exercise our power properly.
We should never forget that only with God can we properly deal with our own weaknesses, and the many temptations and sins around. Only with him can we manage to resist the devil himself. Without him, we are easy prey, a sitting duck. Our earnest desire should be how we can be with God always, our union with him as strong and vibrant as ever.
Let’s not forget that if our first parents, still in their state of original justice and therefore in theory should have been in close union with God, managed to sin, how much more us who are already born with original sin and whose lives here on earth will always be hounded by all forms of evil!
In the case of our first parents, we know that in spite of their very good condition, there was a moment when they failed in the proper exercise of their God-given freedom and chose to listen to the devil rather than to remain faithful to God. And so they fell.
We have to understand that without God, the proper exercise of our freedom would be out on a limb, and it would just be a matter of time before we fall into sin. It is that automatic. We would have no sufficient defenses against our real enemies. We may even think that our enemies are our friends and allies.
We should never forget that our freedom is a very intoxicating endowment God has given us. It should only be exercised with God as its beginning and end. Otherwise, we will only misuse and abuse it and lead us to sin. We should constantly make the effort to choose God instead of what we simply like by ourselves.