Day Fourteen: Presumption

Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

In the first temptation, satan continues by saying to our Lord, “…command that these stones become loaves of bread.” We already reflected upon the fact that this temptation begins with a subtle questioning of Jesus’ identity as the Son of God. But then the devil goes on to commit the error of presumption. The devil presumed that Jesus was so hungry from fasting for forty days and nights, that He would jump at the opportunity to turn stones into bread to satisfy His hunger.

First of all, this shows the foolishness of the devil. The devil appears to think that Jesus would have chosen food for His stomach over the spiritual food of serving the will of His Father in Heaven, attained by His forty days of prayer and fasting in the arid and brutal environment of the desert. Though our Lord rejected this temptation, we often willingly embrace it. 

When the devil looks at us and decides to tempt us, he will usually presume that we are hungry in some way and are willing to do what is necessary to satiate that hunger. The hunger is not only for food, but might be any inordinate desire we have for satiation. You will discover those inordinate desires within your own life by calling to mind those things you think about the most, obsess over, passionately desire, or avoid out of selfishness. Unfortunately, the devil is often right about us. We often choose that which is easiest and the most delightful, gratifying, and instantly satisfying. The devil says to us, “You deserve this indulgence. You earned it. Reward yourself.” Or, the devil might tempt us by saying, “This is too hard. It’s expecting too much of you. Don’t burden yourself in this way.”

Every Christian must be singularly focused. We must choose the will of God no matter what, even when His will requires much sacrifice. To more easily accomplish this, we must be aware of those things that allow the devil to be presumptuous about us. Does the devil know that you regularly seek gratification in food or drink? Then he will tempt you that way. Does he know that you struggle with laziness? Then this will be a tactic he uses. Our goal must be to identify those temptations that the devil will presume about us and work to purify those habits so that the evil one’s presumption is defeated.

Ponder the presumptions the devil makes about you. When our Lord was tempted to satisfy His physical hunger over fidelity to the will of the Father that He fast for those forty days and nights, the choice was easy. Satisfying the flesh meant nothing to Jesus because He had a much deeper form of human fulfillment. His food and His satisfaction were to do the will of His Father. We need to strive to imitate our Lord and always choose the will of the Father, no matter the cost, over the easy, fleshly, or indulgent. If we do, we will find that the devil’s temptations are not only futile, but they are also foolish.

My tempted Lord, the devil, in his foolishness, thought he could lure You to indulge Your appetite after fasting for forty days. The devil clearly did not understand the strength of Your resolve to offer Your sacred life sacrificially. It was that same foolishness of the devil that led him to stir up hatred for You, which led to Your crucifixion. Your selflessness and sacrifice always won the final victory. Please grant me the grace I need to imitate You so that I will have the courage and strength I need to overcome the foolishness of sin and the temptations of the evil one. Jesus, I trust in You.

See also: Day Fourteen: 40 Days at the Foot of the Cross

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