“The last temptation is the greatest treason:To do the right deed for the wrong reason.” – T. S. Eliot
“All things can tempt me from this craft of verse:One time it was a woman’s face, or worseThe seeming needs of my fool-driven land;Now nothing but comes readier to the handThan this accustomed toil.” William Butler Yeats
As everyone learned in Sunday school, Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights and endured the temptation of the devil. That’s where the Lenten season comes from. At a Catholic high school in the middle of the bible belt south, the terrible consequenses of the temptation of sin were pounded into my head every day that I can remember.
Sometimes we are tempted to sin, sometimes to despair, and sometimes to suceed is a temptation itself. Father Jay, the rector at my church, describes temptation as “those things which we feel we can do without God’s help.” He is right. The basic foundation of temptation, the symbolic temptation in the Garden of Eden, is the desire to be like God.
On the mountain, the devil tempted Jesus with rule over the earth. He tempted him to shed his humanity and take on the power of God. And when we are tempted, whether it is a simple temptation to eat an extra peice of cheesecake or a great temptation like manipulating earnings to raise a stock price, ultimately, the arguement in your head is the same. The voice of temptation says, “You don’t need God, you can do this and be like god”. The voice of God says “You do not need this, I will provide all that you need.”
Ask yourself, what tempts you? Why do you allow it to tempt you when God is present to give you everything you need?
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