The month of January is good for making plans for the coming year! There is a saying that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. It is also written that “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3) for “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).
Among all else, commit and plan for gaining solid ground in private victory. There are three lessons we can learn from the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness as recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
- Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter asked Jesus to turn stones into bread. Jesus declined the request and resisted instant gratification.
- Then the devil took Jesus to stand on the highest point of the temple in the holy city and asked Jesus to jump off from the temple, even quoting from scripture, “he will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone” (Matthew 4:6b). In the middle of a busy day, the temple could be full of worshippers. Flying down from the pinnacle of the temple without a parachute and not breaking a bone would surely gain Jesus popularity and recognition. Jesus declined this suggestion to not make a name for himself from this. Let’s not use our God-given gifts, abilities, or talents to show off and for personal glory!
- Again, the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and all their splendor. All could be given to Jesus simply if he bowed down and worshipped the devil. Jesus’ mission was to win back from Satan what was lost through Adam’s sin. Instead of living a sinless life and being crucified on the cross, the devil offered an easier way. Jesus declined the offer and did not take a shortcut to success and power. In the same way, let’s not bypass the proper channels to get what we want, nor run over others to accomplish our goals.
Note that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert (Matthew 4:1) and returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit (Luke 4:14a). By gaining ground in private victory, Jesus’ earthly ministry was blessed with the power of the Spirit.
Think Biblically: private victory precedes public ministry. With private victory, one becomes confident in his/her identity; is committed to his/her calling for life; and is clear of what his/her mission/work is at this moment of his/her journey.