We should not try to test God—manipulate God—to show how great we are. Who amongst us has not been tempted to show off how important we are to God? We can easily deceive ourselves about our motives—into thinking we are showing off our love for God and others, even though our true motive is exalting ourselves.
Near the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit. (Luke 4:1).
Instinctively, I feel this means Jesus would use the Holy Spirit to show off how important he was to God.
But my instincts are wrong. The Holy Spirit did not lead Jesus to show off. Instead, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted for 40 days.
Some aspects of these temptations are specific to Jesus. Was he the Messiah? How would he prove he was the Messiah? What would he do as the Messiah?
Each of us experiences different wildernesses. Each of us experiences different temptations. Each of us experiences temptations for different periods of time.
Nevertheless, we-who-are-not-Messiahs experience many temptations that are similar to the temptations that Jesus experienced when the Holy Spirit led him into a “wilderness” for “40-days”.
Who amongst us has not been tempted to show off how important we are to God. Indeed, we can easily deceive ourselves about our motives.
We can deceive ourselves into believing that we are doing something because we love the LORD our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Matthew 22:37). We can deceive ourselves into believing that we are doing something because we love others as much as we love ourselves. (Matthew 22:39; Leviticus 19:18).
Nevertheless, our true motives may not be so pure and righteousness. Many times, our true motive may be to “jump off the Temple” in order to exalt ourselves, increasing our wealth and power.
For example, in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1).
Jesus gave several examples of such hypocrisy.
When we give to the needy, we should not do it to be honored by others. Such hypocrites show off by announcing it with trumpets! They have already received in full the reward that they truly sought. (Matthew 6:2).
Instead of showing off our generosity, we should give secretly. Then our Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward us. (Matthew 6:3-4).
Jesus also told us not to show off when we pray. Such hypocrites love to pray when they can be seen by others. They have already received in full the reward that they truly sought. (Matthew 6:5-6).
Instead of showing off when we pray, we should pray without being seen. Then our Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward us. (Matthew 6:6).
Jesus told us that we should not show off when we fast. Such hypocrites make sure that others know they are fasting. They have already received in full the reward that they truly sought. (Matthew 6:16).
Instead of showing off when we fast, we should do our best to keep others from knowing that we are fasting. Then, our Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward us. (Matthew 6:17-18).
We should not show off by saying “Lord, Lord”. We should not show off by prophesying in the name of Jesus or by performing many miracles in the name of Jesus. (Matthew 7:21-23).
We should not test God—manipulate God—to show how great we are.
How can you spot someone nowadays who shows off by “jumping off the Temple”? Jesus described these hypocritical show offs of today when he described the Pharisees of his time.
“Everything they do is done for people to see.” (Matthew 23:5). “They love the place of honor . . . and the most important seats”. (Matthew 23:6).
Jesus denounced these hypocritical show offs. (Matthew 23:1-26). “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12; Philippians 2:3-11).
Instead of testing God—manipulating God—to show how great we are, we should follow the advice of the Apostle Paul. He wrote to the church in Philippi that we should “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5).
This mindset meant that Jesus did not show off by “jumping off the Temple”. Instead, Jesus “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 2:7). Indeed, Jesus “humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8).
Jesus wasn’t a show off. And, therefore, God showed off who Jesus was, and is, and is to come:
God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11).
To the glory of God the Father! That is the key.
We are not supposed to show off the glory of us. We are supposed to show off the glory of God!
We are not supposed to “jump off the Temple”. We are supposed to seek first the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness. (Matthew 6:33). We are supposed to follow the Way of Jesus who refused to “jump off the Temple”.
In God’s good time and in God’s good way, he will show off how pleased he is with us for following the Way of Jesus—for being good and faithful servants. (Matthew 6:33; 25:21,23).
In God’s good time and in God’s good way, he will give us a life that we will enjoy to the full! (John 10:10).
For my additional Lenten thoughts, please read my blogs “Fear Not the Pestilence That Stalks in the Darkness”, “Do Not Live on ‘Bread’ Alone”, and “Do Not Seek the Kingdoms of The World and Their Authority”.
For my additional thoughts on the Temptations of Jesus, please read the Chapter “Jesus Is Tempted” in my book Hoping in the LORD, at pages 71-91.
The hymn “To God Be the Glory” has special significance for me. Please read about it in my book Lighting the World, at pages 161-164.