My mom says it takes 21 days to change a habit—either to start a new routine or make something new habitual. Isn’t it great that we have 40 (46 if you count Sundays) days of Lent! In these 40 days, representative of the time Jesus fasted in the wilderness, we can make or break a habit, and we still have time to really become strong in our new convictions. If you are unfamiliar with this passage of scripture, please see below.
Self-discipline is easier said than done. For Lent, this year, I have given up eating out for lunch. Sounds simple enough, right. Well, instead I am to discipline myself to pack my lunch. Satan has tempted me everyday, so far. My go-to lunchstop is Subway. I eat at other places, too, but that big curvy, green and yellow sign just calls my name! I rationalize it by saying, at least it’s not McDonalds! At least I got spinach! It’s not a footlong, it’s only a 6-inch. Crazy!
Reading this passage gives me strength to continue my fast. If we look at these verses, first we see that Jesus was led by the Spirit. Hopefully, you prayed before you decided upon your fast. Hopefully, you allowed the Spirit to whisper to you how you should fast. When we attempt to do things on our own, the road can be much more difficult, being led by the Spirit means the Spirit will be with you when you are weak.
Verses 2 and 3 illustrate Satan’s strategy. Notice that he is referred to as, “the tempter.” Jesus was hungry, so Satan tempted him with food. While everyone’s fast may differ, Satan is willing to meet us right where we are. If we fast from cigarettes, he’ll try to convince us to smoke. If we fast from using profanity, he’ll give us every reason in the world to swear. Notice in verse 4, “Jesus is ready for him. It is written, Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Are you ready with the Word when you are tempted? When we experience temptation, we should pray or read Scripture. The Word will strengthen us for the next time we are tempted, and do expect a next time!
Jesus was tempted again, in verse 5. And again, He was ready with a rebuttal from the Word, ”Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
You would think, even hope, that Satan would stop, but he is relentless. He asks Jesus, the Son of God, God in Human form to bow down and worship him! If Satan would temp Jesus in this way, you can be assured he has no boundaries for us. Be ready. The only way to make it through Lent is by trading your bad habit, with the good habits of reading the Word of God and to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
I’m sure I’ll eat at Subway again--it’s not a sin to eat there. I sensed a problem, when on Sunday night, I would consider whether I was going to get the white flatbread or the wheat flatbread. When they started opening at 9:00am rather than 7:00am, it really shouldn’t have bothered me like it did. As much as I talk about needing to lose weight, it wasn’t just a sub, it was a sub, chips, a Coke, and on Friday, a cookie. Any type of addictive tendency needs a pause.
Paul tells us in Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Don’t give up on your fast. Use this time to break the additive tendencies you have developed to the patterns of the world. Use this time to renew your Spirit by spending time in the Word. When you are tempted, say, “Get behind me, Satan!” Matthew 16:23.
I hope this week's blog will be a blessing to your life.
Copyright 2018 Kimberly Griffith Massey
If you like this style of writing, you will enjoy Turn North: A 30-Day Devotional and Journal written by the author of this blog.