WHERE REAL SPLENDOR LIES!
In my service to our Lord and to His church, I’ve seen some pretty amazing things. I’ve been privileged to serve in some of the most powerful places in our country, places like New York City, Los Angeles, and now Washington, D.C. I have seen our culture and our leaders at their best and at their worst. And one thing is for certain. The splendor of this world, along with the power and wealth it offers, provides real temptations to sinful human beings, especially those in leadership. I’ve been in meetings with political and business leaders, and have listened with amazement as they confidently asserted the “vanquishing power” of their wisdom, wealth, and efforts to solve the biggest problems of our culture.
The temptations which stem from the “splendor” of this world aren’t just for the rich and powerful. Those temptations are real for all of us. It’s easy to think that our best efforts are the key to overcoming the real challenges in our lives too. It’s easy to think that the main issues that plague our hearts and minds can be solved by the right pill, the right policy, the right effort, or just a little more cash. We are all tempted to believe that overcoming our sinfulness, our struggles, and even our temptations is only a matter of more money, more time, a little more wisdom, and a healthy dose of self-confidence. The glitz and glamour of our best efforts and the temptation of the power of position can entice us all to think that we can really go it alone without repentance, faith, and worship of the one true God who should be at the center of our lives and work.
That’s why Jesus’ efforts on our behalf are critical. He resisted temptation in our reading as our substitute and also positively lived out the opposite by worshipping the Lord our God and serving Him only. That is so important for us to know. Real splendor, enduring power, and godly blessing come not from the temporal wealth and power of this world. Rather, such things come from a faith relationship with the God who created and redeemed us all in Christ. Life is to be lived in Him, by Him, and with Him for others. Even wealth, position, power, and authority are gifts to be used to His glory and to serve others in His name. That’s where real splendor lies!
So, if we are going to be useful in God’s hands, whether in the power centers of our culture (places like New York or D.C.) or in the quiet places of our own neighborhoods, the key is to be connected to the God who loves us with an everlasting love in the person and work of Jesus. Jesus faced temptations with the power of the Word of God, the Bible. He positioned Himself before the Father in worship and service as a means by which He could not only overcome this temptation, but later face the challenges of the cross so that we might indeed be saved by His life, death, and resurrection.
So reflect on that amidst all the temptations that you face, even the temptation to replace the power of a faith relationship with God with the temporal splendors of this sinful world. You have a Savior who has faced down temptation, judgment, and even death in your place to save you. In a spirit of thankfulness, put your trust in the One who overcomes ALL TEMPTATION. Discipline yourself to receive and share His Word. Then watch temptation’s power wane and Satan’s presence flee as Jesus comforts and sustains you. Put His Word and His worship to work in your life and in your service to others in His Name, because that’s where godly authority lies and eternal splendor endures.
PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, give us faith to trust in You as our Lord and Savior. Teach us the enduring splendor of living with faith; fill us then with the power to worship You and serve others in Your Name! AMEN.