Day Nineteen: False Presumptions

Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent

Like the first temptation, in the second, the devil commits another error of presumption. The devil said to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you’ and ‘with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone’” (Matthew 4:6). In other words, the devil was saying to Jesus that if He threw Himself down from the top of the Temple, and if angels came to catch Him and keep Him from harm, then all the people who saw this would be amazed and would treat Jesus as the Son of God. Why is this a bad idea?

The devil presumes Jesus would want everyone to know Who He is by means of a stunt. First of all, the devil erred by believing that Jesus’ primary concern was with Himself. Jesus did not need to prove Who He was for His vanity. He did not need people to be amazed at Him for His sake and to praise Him because the angels saved Him. Instead, Jesus’ primary concern was that every person turn from sin, come to an authentic faith in God, and receive the gift of eternal life. Jesus wanted to change hearts. This is why He came—not to elevate Himself—but to raise His fallen children from their sins.

Recall that Jesus performed miracles only when faith was already present. He didn’t do miracles to show off or promote Himself. He did it as a divine act of love, given to those who had already come to faith in Him, in the depths of their hearts, or to spark that faith in the hearts of those open to receive it. The clear difference between the mind of Jesus and the mind of the devil is that the devil presumed Jesus was self-concerned, but Jesus was only concerned about others.

One lesson we can learn from this is that we must imitate the concern Jesus has for the interior conversion of every heart, not with our self-elevation in the eyes of others. When we do an act of charity, it must be done because we love those we are serving, not so that we look good. Or if we share the moral truths of the Gospel with others, it’s never to proclaim our self-righteousness but to help others to turn to God.

Ponder this second temptation of the devil and think about ways that he tries to manipulate you into elevating yourself in the eyes of others. The devil is a tricky and subtle liar. If we do not keep our focus on the glory of God and the salvation of souls, we can easily allow him to deceive us without even knowing it. Turn your eyes from yourself to others, and seek to love them with the Heart of Christ. Doing so is not only good for others, it’s best for your eternal soul.

My loving Lord, in Your perfect humility, Your only concern was the salvation of souls. You longed for all people to turn from sin and to receive the gift of eternal life You came to bestow. Please give me the grace I need to share in that longing. May I never seek to elevate myself in the eyes of others but only seek to share Your saving grace with all. Jesus, I trust in You.

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

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