Lenten Day 6: The Temptation of Self-Promotion.

Today’s Lectio Divina: Luke 4: 5-8 (MsgB)

For the second test he (the Devil) led Him (Jesus) up and spread out all the kingdoms of the earth on display at once. Then the Devil said, “They’re Yours in all their splendor to serve Your pleasure. I’m in charge of them all and can turn them over to whomever I wish. Worship me and they’re Yours, the whole works.” Jesus refused, again backing His refusal with Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve Him with absolute single-heartedness.”

After Jesus passes His first test; one that focuses on the issues surrounding self-preservation (Luke 4: 3-4); now Satan throws a curve ball at God’s Son. Under the guise of flattery, the devil pulls out the second great temptation of self.

The temptation of self-promotion.

Now keep in mind, this temptation has been, over the ions of time, one of the most productive tools in Satan’s arsenal of weapons. It worked well in the Garden of Eden and it works just as well today, in the twenty-first century!

The truth of the matter is that each one of us, from Adam and Eve to you and I today, is pre-wired to diligently seek our own independence and self-worth. Andy Warhol was right. Each one of us is hungry for our own fifteen minutes of fame; and even more, if we can arrange it without looking too obvious about it!

As I see it, we all have within us our own search for significance and most of us will do just about anything and everything we can in life to achieve this significance we hunger for.

The reason?

Without significance and self-worth, we are cast aside by a society that lives and breathes on the fuel of self-promotion. Without significance and self-worth, we are left to live our lonely lives in the secret hell of a meaningless life.

In truth, our drive for significance is simply part of our human nature and at its very core, I would propose that this search for worth is not inherently evil, but is a human trait that actually has great potential when managed in the right way. In my book, The Perfected Self (2002), I suggest that it was God, Himself, who put this search for significance within all of us. The problem arises when we take this hunger into our own hands, believing it is our responsibility to promote ourselves, making a way for our lives to be significant to others and to ourselves.

When viewed from this perspective, I believe Satan, in the wilderness with Jesus, is simply trying His very best to take full advantage of Jesus’ human nature, offering God’s Son a unique opportunity that includes ownership of all the nations of the world in exchange for one little price tag.

Not a bad deal at first glance, but thank goodness, Jesus didn’t fall for this one!

Now there’s a reason that I suggest the deal Satan is offering Jesus just might be a bit attractive to the human side of our Lord. If you carefully examine the offer, Satan’s bargain contains exactly what Jesus came to earth to buy. Ownership of all the nations, with all tribes, tongues, and languages paying homage to the King of Kings. Not a bad thing, huh? From Jesus’ perspective, isn’t that exactly what He wants? All the people of the world, for all time, bowing their knees to Jesus? The world wrapped up in a red bow just might have looked a bit enticing to Jesus at this moment, don’t you think?

If you’re still not convinced, let’s look at it this way. Imagine if you or I could obtain everything we’ve ever wanted in this life in one simple action step. Our deepest search for significance; all our hopes and dreams in life, all fulfilled in one fell swoop. For Jesus, the entirety of the world population, bowing in adoration and praise, is being offered to Him. Don’t you think the human side of Jesus just might be a bit attracted to that kind of offer?

Jesus, you see, was sent here to earth to purchase every living soul on the planet for the purposes of God’s redeeming Kingdom. God’s plan of salvation is very clear as presented in John 3: 16. Because God so loves the whole world, He sent His Son to come to earth to buy it back, redeeming it from the hands of evil. Satan, you see, is actually speaking a half-truth, (a specialty of his, by the way) when he proclaims to Jesus that the nations of the world are under his dominion and he can give that control over to others at his own discretion.

But, unbeknownst to Satan, God has already made a master plan to defeat the enemy, purchasing the whole world back from the hands of evil, through the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of His Messiah, His rescuing Son. A bloody deal to say the least, but as the Scriptures indicate, the only truly effective way to appease for our sin, defeating self and Satan once and for all through the humble obedience of God’s Son, Jesus of Nazareth.

But here in the desert, Satan is offering the same identical prize Jesus has come to earth to buy. And with today’s special offer, Jesus can avoid all that bloody pain and mess of the Cross! But wait! There’s more! With today’s offer, which by the way is good only today, you’ll get free shipping and delivery. Act now! Our operators are waiting!

Now, as I said, how attractive is that? No pain. No mess. Just think of it. Jesus can have all the people He loves, back under God’s ownership. No one has to die, and all for one low price! Say yes to this well-deserved prize of promotion, Jesus. Acknowledge Satan as the one who cut You the deal, and the prize is all Yours!

Wow! Aren’t you glad Jesus decides not to fall prey to this temptation of self-promotion? Aren’t you glad He chose to defer His promotion, putting His future destiny on planet earth back into God’s hands, waiting for His Father to promote Him? If Jesus would have cut this ugly deal in the desert this day, we’d all remain under Satan’s dominion forever and Jesus would end up as just another fallen human being, given over to self-promotion, grabbing the prize for Himself, rather than waiting for God to do the job in the right way.

Thank You, Jesus. Your ability to overcome this temptation of self-promotion here in the wilderness speaks loud and clear on how You came not to be served but to serve!

My prayer: Jesus, You are amazing in Your ability to defer Your earthly destiny into the hands of God. You were given an opportunity to grasp the prize in a manner that would have promoted You to the high place of prominence You rightly deserve. But You knew that self-promotion of this type would never be pleasing to the Father. You chose to worship and serve God, deferring to His plans of promotion, even when You knew that would include a more painful plan for You. Thank You, God, for this model of humility that demonstrates to us that through the empowerment of the Spirit, we, too, can defer our need for significance into the Father’s hands, waiting for You to give us significance in life, according to Your plans and not ours. For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: So how have I allowed the temptation of self-promotion to entice me into a fleshly activity that feeds my deep need for self-worth and significance? How can I intentionally defer my hunger for that worth and significance into God’s hands, letting Jesus be glorified as I wait on Him to promote me in ways that glorify God and His Kingdom?

So, what are you experiencing today as we are journeying through this Lenten Adventure?

Over a 48-day period (from Ash Wednesday through the Monday after Easter), you and I will be taking a deeper look at the stories surrounding the life and ministry of Jesus (especially the last week known as Holy Week) as recorded in the Gospel of Luke. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Our Lenten Journey home page for ease of use. 

If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!

Click here to go onto the next Lenten session…

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