Dissatisfaction > Disobedience

It is better to feel dissatisfied than to be disobedient.
It is better to feel unfulfilled than to act unfaithfully.

Disobedience never leads to true satisfaction and unfaithfulness is never fulfilling. 
However, God always meets the needs of those who are faithful to Him.

Consider this example from the temptation of Christ: 

As Jesus was beginning his public ministry, his first challenge was to endure a time of fasting, followed by intense temptation. Luke tells us,

“Then Jesus left the Jordan, full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” But Jesus answered him, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone”” (Luke 4:1-4).

After 40 days of fasting, Jesus was met by the devil, who made a suggestion: “since you are hungry, use your power and the resources at your disposal to satisfy your needs.” It was natural for Jesus to be hungry. It was natural that he would want to satisfy his hunger. It was within his power as the Son of God to create food to satisfy his needs. But, as we will see, it was not God’s will: Not at this time. Not in this way. Not under these circumstances. Certainly not in obedience to the devil.

Upon hearing the devil’s suggestion, Jesus’ mind immediately went back to a situation in the Old Testament that paralleled his present situation. He thought of the exodus, when the Israelites wandered in the wilderness. There were many times that, while wandering, they found themselves hungry and thirsty- with no means of providing for themselves. In those situations, they had to depend entirely on God for their provision. Although it was a tremendous challenge for them to trust God, He always provided for their needs- in His time. 

Here, Jesus finds himself hungry- and he is being tempted to disavow his dependence upon his Father and provide for himself. In thinking about his situation and the story of the Israelites in the wilderness, Jesus’ mind went back to the book of Deuteronomy, which explains why God allowed his people to go hungry. In that section of Deuteronomy, Moses says,

““Carefully follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase, and may enter and take possession of the land the Lord swore to your ancestors. Remember that the Lord your God led you on the entire journey these forty years in the wilderness, so that he might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then he gave you manna to eat, which you and your ancestors had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out, and your feet did not swell these forty years. Keep in mind that the Lord your God has been disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. So keep the commands of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams, springs, and deep water sources, flowing in both valleys and hills; a land of wheat, barley, vines, figs, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without shortage, where you will lack nothing; a land whose rocks are iron and from whose hills you will mine copper. When you eat and are full, you will bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you”” (Deuteronomy 8:1-10).

God allowed His people to go hungry in the wilderness to test them, to see what was in their hearts, to teach them humility, to see if they would obey Him, and to show His faithfulness. God allowed Jesus to feel intense hunger at this time to see (prove) what was in his heart, to see if (prove that) he would operate out of humble dependence, to see if (show that) he would be obedient, and to demonstrate His faithfulness to meet Jesus’ needs- in the right way, at the right time.

Realizing that his Father had allowed him to experience this hunger and that providing his own “way out”1 would not be in line with His will, Jesus quoted this to the devil, “Man must not live on bread alone” (Deuteronomy 8:3b). In saying this, Jesus was showing the devil that, unlike the Israelites, Jesus would pass the test; he was willing to live in humble obedience to God; he was willing to wait for God’s provision. He would not be tempted to satisfy his needs apart from “every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” He would not eat until God commanded him to. He was willing to remain dissatisfied rather be disobedient to his Father. He was willing to feel unfulfilled rather than be unfaithful.

It’s implied by Luke (and more directly stated by Matthew2) that after the temptation, God sent angels to give Jesus the food he needed. Jesus “walked in God’s ways and feared Him” and God gave him what he needed.

How are you being tempted to provide for yourself- contrary to the will of God? Is it in your quest for success, security, sexual fulfillment, or something else? If you are in the midst of the struggle, God may be testing you- to see where your heart is, to reveal your pride, to teach you patience and dependence, to show you that you do not live by bread alone, but you will flourish when you, in dependence on the Holy Spirit3 keep His commands and patiently wait for His provision.


Footnotes

1. 1 Corinthians 10:13
2. Matthew 4:11
3. Luke 4:1

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s