Kolar: Follow in the ways He has taught us

Rev. Janel Kolar reflects on humankind's inability to resist temptation, common temptations people face today and drawing parallels to Jesus' temptation in the wilderness.

Rev. Janel F. Kolar is the pastor at First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ in Dickinson, North Dakota.
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Matthew 4:1: Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. As we enter into the 40 days (not counting Sundays) of Lenten observance, it is well worth contemplating humankind’s inability to resist temptation. I’m sure every generation from the beginning of time thought people had finally gotten about as bad as possible, but I feel like we are becoming less and less interested in resisting temptation, giving in, instead, to every whim and want.

We seem to fall pretty easily into the temptations we face everyday – temptations such as eating what we should not eat, spending too much time in front of screens, trying to by-pass rules and laws, lying or cheating to save our skin or get what we want, drinking or self-medicating so we can feel good for a couple of hours, sitting too much, working too much, buying too much….the list seems endless. What seems pretty obvious to me is that it is becoming less and less important for us to bother to try to resist what tempts us, and more and more important for us to just do whatever we want to do.

Jesus faced the temptation to satisfy his hunger immediately, the temptation to test God’s love and protection by doing something dangerous, and the temptation to have power over others. In a way, all of our temptations are like that – we want something and want it right now by whatever means necessary to get it; we test God’s love and protection by living in such a way that leads to either the death of our bodies or the death of our souls; and we continually search for ways to have more power, more wealth, more of everything.

Jesus faced his temptations by refocusing his attention away from whatever was tempting him and toward the ways of God. He reminded himself of the truth in the face of temptation's lies. If we want to avoid what tempts us most, that’s what we need to do too.

God wants us to choose him – to follow in the ways he has taught us. We might not get to do whatever we want, whenever we want. We will have to be careful with our bodies and souls. And we will likely never be rich or famous or powerful. But we will have something more important – the abundant and eternal life God wants to share with us.


During this season of contemplation, fasting and sacrifice, I plan to focus on these words from the prayer Jesus taught us: “lead us not into temptation”… because I want to be just like Jesus!

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